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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, May 16 2019

Pressing the spiritual snooze button

Most of us are immersed in our hectic lives pursuing our careers, taking care of our family and friends and dealing with a myriad of other time-consuming matters. But are we neglecting our spiritual life, and the unique opportunity we have to grow closer to our Father in heaven?

We know physical sleep is essential to function effectively, but the Bible tells us spiritual sleep can be dangerous (Matthew 25:5-13)!

In several places the example of a watchman is used to illustrate the kind of attitude a Christian should have. In ancient times watchmen guarded agricultural fields from animals or thieves and were also posted on city walls to warn of potential threats. They had to stay awake and alert at all times. 

We are told to think of ourselves as spiritual watchmen. Not only should we vigilantly guard and progress our own spiritual condition, but we have the commission to spread the gospel and warn others to wake up from their spiritual slumber (Mark 16:15, Matthew 25:1-5).

The Apostle Paul also introduces the idea of ‘redeeming the time’ in his epistle to the Ephesians. “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:14-16). This concept is particularly applicable for us today, as we live in a world of constant entertainment, television and social media.

The book of Ezra contains an ancient example which is very relevant. The Jews who returned to Israel after their captivity were given the important task of rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 1:1-2). They began enthusiastically renovating the temple’s foundation, but it wasn’t long before persecution began (Ezra 4:1-5; 4:23). Instead of courageously standing up to  their enemies, the people stopped God’s work and began pursuing their personal interests. They made their first priority building houses for themselves, starting businesses and getting married. Honouring their Creator and their own spiritual growth was no longer their most important pursuit. 

In response God called the prophets Haggai and Zechariah to reawaken them to their mission. Haggai rebuked the former captives for abandoning their God-given responsibilities: ‘Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?’ Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘Consider your ways!’” (Haggai 1:3-5).

This warning is very relevant for us. Are we really awake to our divine calling, or are we so caught up in our day-to-day tasks we are essentially displaying the same attitude the Jews had when they were supposed to be rebuilding the temple? Winston Churchill, Britain’s prime minister during the Second World War, wrote: “To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”

For Christians called to serve God, this is our special moment.