Summary: It is imperative that we wake up to the reality of the imminence of Christ’s return.
Title: No Naps!
Text: I Thessalonians 5:1-11
The Big Idea: It is imperative that we wake up to the imminence if Christ’s return.
The talk today is a continuation of our discussion last week from I Thessalonians 4:13-18. The purpose of that text was to comfort and encourage those who were confused about what would happen to the dead when Christ returned. This week the purpose of the text is to challenge those who may be confused about what they should be doing in the interim as they wait for the return of Christ.
So we are given two words of exhortation:
• Comfort in regard to the dead in Christ.
• Challenge in regard to how those who live in Christ are to live.
The title of the message today is No Naps!
Play Napping Video Clip (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXggUnPJvd0)
The man’s determination to seize every opportunity for a power nap was amusing, but napping really is apparently a good thing for us.
“Our culture generally frowns upon mid-day sleep; however, even in those who get enough sleep (but particularly in those who don’t), many people experience a natural increase in drowsiness in the afternoon, about 8 hours after waking. And research shows that you can make yourself more alert reduce stress and improve cognitive functioning with a nap. Mid-day sleep, or a ‘power nap’, means more patience, less stress, better reaction time, increased learning, more efficiency and better health.
“Studies show that 20 minutes of sleep in the afternoon provides more rest than 20 minutes more sleep in the morning. The body seems to be designed for this, as most people’s bodies naturally become more tired in the afternoon, about 8 hours after we wake up. (Elizabeth Scott, M.S., Power Napping for Increased Productivity, Stress Relief and Health, About.com: Stress Management, July 7, 2008)
However, napping in regard to one’s readiness for the return of Christ may be harmful to your eternal health.
1. The historic understanding of the return of Christ is that it is imminent.
“I really don’t need to write to you about how and when all this will happen, dear brothers and sisters. For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come unexpectedly…” I Thessalonians 5:1
Imminence is the view held from the earliest times that the return of Christ and the end of the world may happen at any time.
• It means there is nothing that must take place before it can happen.
• It means you cannot set a date because as soon as you set a date it is not longer imminent.
Despite the long list of signs that preclude the return of Christ cited in Matthew 24, Jesus said, “However, no one knows the day or the hour when these things will happen, not even the angels of heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” Matthew 24:36
• It means imminency does not equal immediacy or soon.
It is important to distinguish between imminence and immediacy.
“While the return of Christ may not be ‘immediate,’ it is always ‘imminent.’” (Donald McKim, Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms, P. 138)
Imminence means that something is ready to take place. One aspect of the definition is that something that is imminent is hanging threateningly over one’s head. While that may be true in the sense of those who have something to fear… for the Christian it simply means Christ may return at any moment.
Three scenarios are used as descriptors of the concept of imminence:
a. The return of Christ is to happen unexpectedly… like the intrusion of a thief in the middle of the night.
“I really don’t need to write to you about how and when all this will happen, for you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come unexpectedly like a thief in the night.” I Thessalonians 5:1-2
The second descriptor is that it will be at a time of peace.
b. The return of Christ will take place when we are lulled by peace and security.
When people are saying, “All is well; everything is peaceful and secure…” I Thessalonians 5:3a
There certainly are times when the people of the world have longed for the return of Christ. Times of cataclysmic catastrophe: The horrors of war, ethnic cleansing, the fleeing before merciless mercenaries and insurgents, the desolation of refugee camps; the terrors of natural disasters when the earth quakes, the sound of wind screaming in our ears, the crashing of waves, and the spewing of molten lave; the collapse of governments and economies; and periods of persecution.
Who, living in eastern Congo today, fleeing before Tutsi rebels while being simultaneously victimized by Congolese government soldiers and opportunists, would not long for the return of Christ. And what young Latino man, being beaten nearly to death by members of the Kentucky Imperial Klan of America Ku Klux Klansmen, would not long for the return of Christ.?