Summary: This is a sermon that focuses on just how close God really is.
Where is God? Is He far… far way? Or is He perhaps closer than we /like\ to think. Hearing the words of Jesus in our scripture today, we learn that indeed HE is not all that far away. Therefore, we must be diligent. We must be prepared. The scripture today tells us that Jesus’ arrival will come at an unexpected time. Luke compares the second coming to a thief coming in the night. We can’t know when. It could be anytime… even during the second or third watch of the night… meaning the middle of the night. Would we be ready if Christ came tonight at… oh… say… 3:30 AM? Just how prepared would we be?
This makes me pose the next logical question. Just how prepared /should\ we be? Jesus answers this question for us in the verse that says we should “gird up our loins”. When this scripture was written, it was the standard to wear long flowing robes. If a person was going to make a journey, especially with any kind of speed, they would have to gather up the fabric and tie it about their waist so their legs could have free movement. To, “gird up our loins”. In other words, we should live our lives as if at any moment, God will become present, and call us to go. The consequences of not being prepared, the consequence of not “girding up our loins” can be compared to the image of a modern day man trying to run in a dress. It’s /\ SCARY /\.
And yet many of us are that unprepared. We do not believe the Master is near. We do not bother to prepare for his coming. Instead we rest easy believing that tomorrow will come just like every other day before it has come. In this relaxed state, we could easily come face to face with Jesus and find ourselves VERY unprepared. Jesus’ point in this parable is that we should be like the servants waiting for the Master’s return. We must be waiting because Jesus is near. Much more than that, God is near. As much as we deny the coming presence of Jesus, even more so we ignore the CURRENT presence of God. God is much closer to us than we often like to believe. Much of our lives will go by without us realizing just HOW near God is to us. We tend to think that he is far away, perhaps on vacation, perhaps trapped in church buildings until the next Sunday rolls around, anywhere… but near.
Believing God is a million miles away, we find it easy to become less faithful, and less prepared. To use the imagery of the parable, we loosen the fabric about our waste. We make ourselves comfortable and relax in the thought that God is not here right now… so we can breath a little easier. However, we must be faithful and diligent in God’s absence because the truth… is that God is NEVER absent. And so we should live our lives as if knowing God is not absent. We should live our lives as if knowing that even now the Master may be at the door.
Being faithful and diligent… as if knowing God is here is not an easy task, because it is so easy for us to convince ourselves that he isn’t here. Our crowded lives and busy days rarely make room for the realization that God is with us. We refuse to let God in, and as a result… we believe that we live our lives apart from God. Sadly, blocking God off from our lives outside the church has carried into our lives inside the church. We come into the sanctuary, and believe that God is even far away from church. I am not saying we do it intentionally, it is just the way we have lived our lives. We sit here, face to face with God, and somehow we are not moved… we are not struck with awe… we check the bulletin… check our watches… and then drift off to what we have planned for the rest of our busy day in the rest of our crowded lives. But, He is here. And yet we can go an entire hour and barely even acknowledging his presence. Suppose if you will, a 20 foot tall giant standing at front of this room. How would you react? Would your actions change at all? Would you be surprised? Afraid? Excited? Confused? Struck with awe? The sad thing is, we have something much more wonderful and much more AWEsome… than a 20 foot tall giant with us today. Yet we don’t react that way to God. We believe Him to be far, far away… and we sit in His presence feeling safe, comfortable, and unmoved.