What It Means to Live in Readiness

Nathanael Winkler

Children of God have a guaranteed residence which no one can take away: they are citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20-21). This, of course, does not mean that they are without responsibilities here on earth. The Bible tells us unequivocally that we should be subject to our government (Romans 13:1-7). For instance, Christians may not imagine that as citizens of heaven, we no longer have to pay taxes on earth. Someone might say that he won’t pay any taxes, since taxes are used for some sinful purpose which he cannot condone. That is wrong. An exception to the rule of obedience to earthly authorities does exist if a law demands that we act in direct opposition to God’s will. But, basically, a Christian is not one who takes rebellious actions or who marches in any demonstration that comes along (see 1 Peter 2:12-13). Believers have other priorities; they have more important things to do.

Our first and primary loyalty is due to the God of heaven, where Christ and our citizenship reside. Our home is in heaven, as the Lord tells us: “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also” (John 14:1-3). Our time here on earth is limited; we are merely passing through. “Our conversation [citizenship] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:20).

As Christians, we live in expectancy. The question is, are we consciously living in anticipation of the Lord’s return? This word “expectant” in the original text denotes a patient but very eager awaiting. It is a strong term to express the profound anticipation of an event.

I remember my time in the Swiss Army, when our unit had to be on stand-by. At the time, we were not so impressed with the seriousness of that order; it was only readiness for Davos [the World Economic Forum is held there]. We had to sleep in our uniforms and have our rifles at the ready. If something had happened, we would only have had to get into the tanks and then been taken to Davos. This is an illustration of readiness (see Eph. 6:10-20).

Everything we do should be accompanied by the thought: “The Lord is coming.” If He would now appear, will He find us ready? Or would we be taken by surprise when we find ourselves suddenly facing Him?

We must set the right priorities in our lives. The bad examples, mentioned by Paul in Philippians 3:18-19, are focused on food, dress, one’s own recognition, comfort and entertainment. Of course, we can enjoy the good things provided by the Lord, but we may not “gorge” ourselves. Covetousness and greed are idolatry according to Colossians 3:5. Rather, in every area of our lives we should inquire: “Lord what is your will?” We are called to invest in that which is eternal and lasting, for the earthly is brief and fleeting. When the Lord calls us to a task, we must do it today and not wait till tomorrow—it may be too late.

The leadership of a congregation told one gifted young man that his talents would be a great asset within the church. But he was establishing his career, and responded that once he got ahead a little, he would have the time. The years went by and he was 40 years old. Again, the congregation inquired. He explained that he was just now at the top level of his career, and soon he would be available. Then he married and raised his children … now he was 60 years old. They checked with him again, but still he didn’t have time enough since he had to prepare for retirement. Then when he was receiving his pension, he said: “Now I am too tired.”

When the Lord provides us with a gift, we may not ignore this blessing by putting off our task to an indefinite time. Be it far from us to become comfort-seeking Christians. “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11-12). God’s will has priority, even if that should lead to suffering.

In Philippians 3:21, Paul says that when Christ returns, He “will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body (NIV).” That is the Rapture (1 Thess 4:13-18). We have the hope that our sin-riddled body will be replaced with a new, eternal one. Exactly how this will transpire we do not know (1 John 3:2). But we do know that we will recognize each other. It will be a real body, and to a certain degree we will still have our own personality. Those who are alive will be changed, and the dead will be resurrected. “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor 15:53). Awaiting us is an imperishable resurrection body, just like Jesus Christ’s. Then we will be free of sin and all temptation.

When we bring this message of the Rapture to the world, many people don’t believe it. Even some Christians seem embarrassed to speak about their future transformation and the event of our Lord’s appearing, to take all believers to Himself in a split second. But that day will definitely come, “according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Phil 3:21).

Our God has created heaven and earth. He can achieve any and all things which he ordains. May we live with this faith and always be ready. “And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him” (Matt. 25:6).

Midnight Call - 09/2018

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