I have a pretty serious weather app on my phone. While you can use it to get a variety of maps and track all kinds of storms, the thing I love most is the way it alerts me if severe weather is coming. You can set static locations, like home and work, and any time a storm is moving toward those locations, I get an alert. But it also has a “follow me” feature which will alert you to severe weather when it is moving toward your current location no matter where you are.
What is the alert? Glad you asked. It’s a truly obnoxious sound that’s impossible to ignore – just the way I like it. That means my days of staying up all night watching for any approaching tornadoes are over. I know that my phone is going to scare me half to death at 3 am if I need to know something dangerous is coming our way.
This app helps me live in a more alert fashion to my physical environment. Similarly, Christians need to be alert to our spiritual environment.
We cannot muddle our way through life. Instead, we must live with a greater sense of awareness of what God is doing in the world. Here, then, are three reasons Christians need to be alert.
Christians Need to Be Alert Because Jesus is Coming Back
This is a really real thing. It could be today. Like, now. Maybe now. Or now. Could be tomorrow. That’s kind of the point.
After a series of parables, all centering on the return of Jesus and the proper and improper ways to prepare, Jesus summarized it like this:
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. - Matthew 24:42
It’s a little like coming home from work everyday. Though they don’t do it as often as they used to, occasionally I am greeted by the sound of my kids yelling to welcome me home when I come in the door. They didn’t know exactly what time I was coming, but they knew I was.
Maybe they heard the car pull into the driveway or garage door open. They were alert to the signs of my inevitable return home. In the same way, we live with an uncertain confidence in Jesus’ return. We are confident that it’s happening, but not confident as to when.
We should not spend our hours trying to calculate or make predictions around the exact time, but rather live constantly with a sense of alertness of His return.
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Christians Need to Be Alert Because Opportunities are All Around Us
We must also stay alert because of the opportunities around us to share God’s love with others. In the book of Ephesians, Paul lays out the rationale behind this. First, in Ephesians 2:8-10, he reminds us that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, but he goes on to help us see that this faith is active:
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. - Ephesians 2:10
God has saved us, but He has also intentionally planned good works for us and placed them in
our path. These are good works we are to walk in! We need to recognize the opportunity through the Holy Spirit, and then do what the love of Jesus compels us to do day in and day out.
That’s the heart behind a verse later in Ephesians:
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. - Ephesians 5:15-16
As you go through your day, be aware of where and how the Holy Spirit may be leading you. Unless you are alert, you may miss the opportunities right in front of you to love others and share the hope of the Gospel with those around you.
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Christians Need to Be Alert Because We Have the Tendency to Drift
We must, as Christians, be alert because Jesus is coming back. And we must be alert because of the opportunities God has put in our path. We must also be alert because we know our own hearts, and unless we are alert, we will always tend to drift from Jesus:
We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. - Hebrews 2:1
No one drifts toward Jesus. Instead, like a boat not anchored in the middle of the sea, we will always move from our original position. We need to actively and alertly fighting against it our tendency to drift.
Be alert, Christian. Pay attention. Be wise. Know that Jesus is coming back, that opportunities are all around us, and fight against the tendency to drift.
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