"A PEOPLE PREPARED FOR THE LORD"
“WE’VE got to be prepared!” So runs the warning which meets our eyes at every turn. Take out insurance to prepare for illness, accident or old age, prepare to buy a house by saving, or carefully prepare for a profitable career by studying. A constant reiteration by adverts of one form or another about preparing carefully for something that will enhance life or personal circumstances, from which it is impossible to escape. The focus of human life in this age is constantly upon personal advancement.
The children of this world are wise in their generation: wiser in some things, as Christ reminded us, than the children of light. They have learned the value of constant repetition as a means of impressing an idea on the human mind: they ensure that there is no possibility of its being overlooked or forgotten: and they have their reward in the influence exerted on the thought and impulse of their fellow men.
Imperceptibly, but none the less emphatically, the modern point of view has been modified by this means. Humanism and hedonistic thought once held at bay by at least a form of religion, is now an established conviction held by the majority. A revolution in human thought and purpose has been achieved by the skilful reiteration of these vain philosophies through our education systems and indeed by permeating all aspects of life.
We who would be children of light may usefully take a leaf from the book of worldly wisdom practised by the children of this generation. We cannot adopt their methods, but we can apply the same principle to keep the Truth the dominant idea within our minds. We, too, must be prepared! And for greater, nobler, and holier things than those which concern our neighbours. For them mortal welfare is at stake: for us eternal welfare is involved.
Our life in Christ is essentially a period of preparation for a higher destiny. Only upon those who by a patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory, honour and immortality, will God bestow eternal life (Rom. 2:7). We have “renounced the superstition by all the world preferred” of inherent human immortality and accepted with all its stern yet inspiring implications the Bible’s teaching on conditional immortality. We recognise that to become a partaker of the Divine nature is an exceeding great and precious promise—not to be bestowed indiscriminately by God, but awarded only to those who have overcome.
Many are the exhortations given to us in the Scriptures for the need for preparation for the coming of the Lord. We are admonished to watch and pray: to be unwearied in well-doing: to seek first and foremost the Kingdom of God and His righteousness: to cast off the works of darkness and put on the armour of light: to stand fast in the faith and to quit us like men—and many more sayings of similar import. All these can be summarised under the one expression, “We must be prepared,” if we are to succeed in the day of Christ.
The Apostle John, banished to Patmos, was granted the privilege of seeing in spirit the things which should be hereafter; and in the concluding vision recorded in Revelation 21, he saw the holy city, New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. Could any figure of speech convey to our minds more appropriately the ideals and activities which should characterise those who seek to become united with Christ in the day of his exaltation? One of our hymns expresses the present pain of separation and the longing for reunion:
As a woman counts the days,
Till her absent lord she see,
Longs and watches, weeps and prays,
So, dear Lord, we do for Thee!
Perhaps sisters may enter more fully than we possibly can into the sentiments expressed in this verse: but all of us can appreciate in some measure the dominant idea of intense anticipation of the coming union.
Truly there is a place in our lives for the constant emphasis on the necessity of preparation. We must be prepared—for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. And only if we are really in earnest about this matter can we truthfully join in John’s response to the Master’s last promise: “Even so Come! Lord Jesus.”
Adapted- (1939, F Turner).