1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, ” 1Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3While people are saying, “Peace and safety,” destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.
4But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
My my my, how has this year flown by. Was it only yesterday that I wrote that they could have chosen better performers for the New Year’s Eve Special? I visited a church whose pastor gave a sermon about next year. He talked about how every dollar had lost at least thirty cent’s worth of value, the natural disasters that seem to plague us these days, and the volitile tensions in the Middle East. His conclusion was that in a very short while Jesus would be returning. I had already seen that headline on a magazine by Wal-Mart’s checkout line some weeks ago. I seem to remember that Jesus said that the only sign that would be given this generation was that of Noah. While he was building his boat, everybody else was drinking, partying, marrying, having kids, and just living, albeit sinfully and full of evil all the time, but they weren’t about to change for anything or anyone. It seems so many Christians are caught up in the living, they’ve forgotten to follow God’s dirrections. If you knew for a fact the date Jesus would return, would you spend every minute leading people to Christ, or would you live it up every day except the last one doing as you please? The thing of it is that it seems that three hundred and sixty five days is going to be a whole lot longer from day one than it does from day three hundred and sixty five. So perhaps that pastor is right, we have seen our very last full year, or perhaps there might be a few more full years left before our time is up, but we should be living as if it is a matter of time that is about to run out. Because if it all ends before today does, where do you think you would find yourself? Thrilled at the prospect? Awaiting a nightmare? Somewhere confused inbetween?
But that’s only the half of it. The rest of this verse tells us that we shouldn’t really be surprised at all. We should be alert and self-controlled (twice!) We should be encouraging each other and building one another up. Not so easy to do in this world where we have made unofficial sport of tearing each other down. (Or dissing, as they say in the vernacular, short for disrepecting.) The sorts of jokes we tell these days would be horrible insults or even fighting words just decades ago. Of course, just passing out compliments is a help, but it think we’re to do more than just talk, but to take action to encourage and build up each other.