Summary: The life of a faithful disciple is not about making a profession of faith and then waiting for the good life after death. We have to make the "good life" now, as we live in God's Kingdom everyday!
We live in an extremely fast-paced world. Chattanooga is now known as “Gig City” because with the new fiber optics infrastructure, many of us measure internet speeds in gigabytes per second, as opposed to the more common, and notably slower, megabytes per second. We have instant communication available to us via phone, video conferencing, email, text message, and social media, among many others. So whereas business once conducted at a snail’s pace, major decisions can be planned and executed in a matter of moments, and on a personal level we can easily keep in touch with relatives near and far on a weekly, if not daily, or even hourly basis. We can fly across the country in a matter of hours by plane. In any given moment, we can get the most “up-to-the-minute” news from around the world on any number of 24-hour news stations. A “Disney Fast Pass” can get you into the park’s most popular rides in 15 minutes or less. We can “Google” the most mundane of questions and have an answer in a matter of seconds. And, should we need something faster, there’s probably a way to make it happen. All we have to do is ask.
So it is, I believe, that we have become a rather impatient lot. If something is not happening as fast as we feel it should, we demand an explanation. We become irritable and angry whenever we are delayed. And, perhaps with the exception of a visit to the doctor’s office, we do not get into anything with the expectation that we will be waiting for a long time; nor do we ever really prepare ourselves in any significant way for the possibility that we might need to be patient and wait.
I guess some things are just human nature. Life was much slower paced 2,000 years ago when Jesus told this parable of the ten bridesmaids. Nevertheless, half of these women were still not prepared to wait. But in order for us to understand what these women were waiting for, we need to understand the wedding customs of the day. On any given wedding day, guests would assemble at the home of the bride and there were entertained by her parents while waiting for the groom. When the bridegroom approached, the guests, including the bridesmaids, would light torches and go out to greet him. Then, in a festive procession, the entire party walked to the groom’s home, where his parents waited for the ceremony and the extended banquet that would follow (and continue) for several days.
In the parable of the bridesmaids, however, for whatever reason, the groom has been delayed. Day quickly turns night, and night darkens to midnight. The party has slowed, the guests have all tired out, and many go to sleep, including all the bridesmaids. Then the shout comes that the groom is coming. You can imagine the hustle and bustle in those moments as the guests quickly prepare themselves to go out and meet the groom for the processional. But in the hurried preparations, five of the bridesmaids quickly discover that in the passing hours of the night, their lamps have burned out, and they have no more oil with which to rekindle them.