"This world is not our true or permanent home. We are here as pilgrims and sojourners. We are reminded by Holy Scripture that 'our commonwealth is in heaven.'
"We are citizen/servants of God's kingdom, with a very important assignment, as we make our way through this world.
"Pilgrims with purpose -- the kingdom business our Father has given us to do while here.
"The world and its resources are tools and means God has built into his creation to assist us in accomplishing our mission."
Not Just Be Careful . . . Beware!
(Watch those attachments)
". . . But take heed to yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a snare;
For it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. But watch at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of man."
"It's a great, wide, wonderful world we live in . . ."
So goes the first line of a song from a popular stage play.
And it is, too: - it is a great wide, wonderful world we live in.
God really pulled out all the stops when he made it, there in the Beginning, didn't he?
It is a good world.
It is full of many good things.
And it is God's intent that we should use and enjoy the world -- and all that God has placed in it.
But . . . as big and as wide and as wonderful and as good as the world is, it is also possible
To become so enamored with the world; so involved with the world; so attached to the world
That we forget just who we are, and Why we are to view the world and our relationship with it.
This world is not our true or permanent home. We are here as pilgrims and sojourners. We are reminded by Holy Scripture that "our commonwealth is in heaven."
We are citizen/servants of God's kingdom, with a very important assignment, as we make our way through this world.
Pilgrims with purpose -- the kingdom business our Father has given us to do while here.
The world and its resources are tools and means God has built into his creation to assist us in accomplishing our mission.
In this passage from Luke, we hear our Lord warning us not to become too attached to this world.
Why? We could get so attached and involved with the world that we fail to complete our assignment.
We can get so attached to this world that we fail to make it back home.
We can get so attached to this world we actually choose to forget our kingdom citizenship.
The world can mislead us.
The world can bedazzle us.
The world can blind us --
All to the extent that we lose our perspective.
Sitting there in the forefront needs to be the little reminder that the world is, after all, only transitory.
That is not to belittle or diminish this handiwork of God in anyway; it is only to remind us that its days and its time are limited.
From our Lord's own lips we have it stated that "heaven and earth will pass away."
In the master plan of God, there is a day and a time when this world will have fun its intended course and served its intended purpose.
The same God, who created this world, will bring it to its end.
How foolish then, and how futile, to pin our hopes upon, and put our trust in, this present world.
That in no wise even suggests that we can ignore this world, or treat it any old way we choose.
It is simply to remember that the world is transitory, and if in this world is where you've put your trust; if it is to this world that you have formed your attachments;
If this is where your energies are invested; if this would is the object of your love,
When 'that day' comes, and this world passes away, what then? What will you have? Where will you be? What can possibly save you?
The world, and everything in it, will be gone . . . all of it . . . every bit of it.
So it is dangerous, it is foolish, it is futile to get all wrapped up in this world.
And, yet, that is what some of you are allowing to happen.
Three weeks ago, I talked with a man who claimed membership in a congregation with which I was working --
Even though he had not set foot inside the door of the church building for over five years.
I spoke with him about his relationship to Christ and the Church.
His only answer was, "I know, Reverend it's just that I am so involved in so many things, and have so much to take care of, that there isn't enough time. I know I ought to go to church, but . . ."
That's exactly what our Lord is talking about here, isn't it?
"Beware, be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation" -- being all scattered out in several pursuits and directions and the anxieties of attachment to the world . . .
That is just what happened to this man to whom I was speaking.
Maybe we'd better listen to everything our Lord had to say at this point, particularly the conclusion of the whole matter: -
"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighted down with dissipation, drunkenness, and the anxieties of life . . .
. . . And here is the conclusion of the matter: -
"And that day will close on you unexpectedly, like a trap."
. . . "That day will close unexpectedly on you, like a trap."
"That Day" our Lord is talking about is the day when he returns to judge the living and the dead, and to gather to himself in his kingdom, his elect;
The day when this earth -- the world as we know it -- will be destroyed.
Now, whenever we hear talk of 'that day' and the destruction of this world mentioned;
Whenever the second coming of Christ and the day of judgment get into the conversation, one of the first things We tend to do
Is exactly what the disciples and the people of Jesus' day did . . .
We ask a question . . . the same question they asked: - "When, Lord?" "When are you coming again?" "When is the end of the world going to happen?"
"When is the day of judgment going to take place?" "Tell us the day and the time."
But no day is going to be given. No time is going to be given.
That information; those answers, are information and answers that are known only to the Father -- and the Father's not telling!
For Holy Scripture and our Lord, When never seems to be the question of prime importance.
For Jesus, When is not a burning issue, at all.
Far more significant, and far more urgent is the word Now!
Take an honest inventory of who -- or what -- is your first love - Now!
Take a hard, sincere measure of the condition of your soul - Now!
Because, for you, "that day" may very well Be Now!
In terms of time and eternity, 'that day' is so close that is Now!
In terms of the brevity and the uncertainty of life, 'that day' Is Now
It is Now for that hunter who tripped and accidentally shot himself. It is Now for the person who is being rushed to the hospital with a fatal heart attack.
It is Now for headlines and/or articles from today's newspaper.
And are you absolutely certain that today or tomorrow you will not be flying in that place, or crossing that intersection, or making your ambulance run, or maybe just falling peacefully asleep and not waking?
This is not an attempt to scare anyone. It is trying to do what Jesus is doing here -- trying to get you fully aware . . . seeing the whole matter in its true perspective -- as it really exists - Now!
"That day," Jesus states, "will close on you unexpectedly like a trap."
Some months ago, I was watching a movie in which a father was pitted against his son for survival on a desert island.
One day, while walking in the woods, the father watched, as the son put the finishing touches on a pit his son had dug right along a jungle path.
A few days later, the boy lured his father down that path, and stood just beyond that death trap, goading his father to come charging across after him.
But the father, knowing exactly what awaited him there, jumped to the side and began to run around --
Only to be yanked up into the air, caught by his feet in a snare loop the son had laid, when the father wasn't watching.
'That day' will close on you unexpectedly, like a trap."
There is one more "beware" we should all hear -- attentively -- at this point: - beware you don't put up a spiritual umbrella at this moment, expecting to remain dry, while the message runs off on all the others around you.
Take heed, lest you fail to hear the words Jesus speaks next: - "for that day will come upon all who live on the face of the earth . . .
"All" who live on the face of the earth" . . . All
There is no hiding under a spiritual umbrella. There is no hiding -- period.
All includes you.
All includes me.
Each and every one of us is inescapably involved and unavoidably caught up in this whole business of 'that day', and being face-to-face with the living God.
It is useless . . . it unwise . . . it is wasteful to spend your time or spin your wheels trying to figures out just when 'that day' may be.
What's more, it could be fatal.
What IS important; what is timely, what is wise is that we be about the various tasks our Father has given us to do --
And to be about them with diligence and faithfulness,
This final word from the Lord, "be always on the watch, then, and pray that you will be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.'
Please . . . do not resolve to take care of this matter tomorrow -- or even later today.
"That Day" is N - O -- W!
- George Haynes
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George Haynes was ordained in 1951 and is currently a mission developer for Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Rockport, TX and is an ELCA Stewardship key leader.