What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’ (Mark 13:37 NIV)
In the scriptures, we are exhorted by the Lord and His apostles, to be ‘watchful’, ‘sober’, ‘alert’, and ‘ready’ at all times. Watchfulness implies impending danger. In this age people have grown increasingly disconnected from the realities of life, desensitised to the profusion of evil in society, and, drawn into a virtual world created by the social media. A great cloud of passivity has descended on whole communities. We fear what we should not fear, while ignoring the more serious dangers, which are often spiritual in nature.
When the media raises the spectre of nuclear war, a shattered economy or climate change, people are alarmed, but we ignore more serious problems – growing loneliness among the elderly, sexual immorality and various addictions among teenagers, high rates of divorce and children growing up in broken homes – which result when society turns its backs on God, and ultimately weaken the social fabric of communities. We are increasingly cut off from the suffering of our neighbour. Sadly, many churches lack the wherewithal to withstand enemy attacks; having embraced a form of godliness that denies the power of the gospel to transform individual lives and communities.
Yet, two thousand years ago, we were warned that such things would happen. Christ has called His church to remain in a state of high alert, like watchmen guarding the walls around nations, being ready to raise the alarm and confront the enemy. When Christians, as individuals or as a body, yield to apathy and spiritual drowsiness, there is nothing left to protect families, communities and nations from enemy attack.
The purpose of spiritual vigilance is two-fold:
- We ought to be on our guard against the darts of the enemy sent to destabilise us -as individuals or at the corporate level – and wreck our spiritual lives.
- We ought to work to prepare for the end times and the return of Christ
It is essential to find a balanced response to the things that are happening all around us. As Christians, we live beneath God’s sheltering wings, and enjoy His wonderful protection. We must not live in a state of fear and anxiety; equally we should guard against complacency and spiritual laziness. God’s protection often takes the form of warning signals issued by the Holy Spirit to alert us to the danger looming ahead; so we must keep awake, watchful in prayer to receive these signals. God shows us the way out of various problems, and leads us to undertake specific actions to protect ourselves, our families, and the church. Unless we are vigilant to ward off the enemy’s darts; we could find ourselves weakened, or struggling when danger comes our way.
The scripture highlights 5 areas that Christians ought to pay special attention to, in order to maintain the integrity of our spiritual walk. These areas, while distinct, tend to overlap in many respects –
- False teaching
- Condition of our hearts
- Divisions within the church
- The Devil
- The day of the Lord.
Some of the coming posts will be devoted to the study of Christian watchfulness, as we look at each of these areas.
Father, thank You for Your protection in this age of peril. Help us to remain alert and watchful, against all danger and deception, as we prepare for the second coming of Your Son. Protect us by the power of Your name. Amen.