“Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake — for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” (Mark 13:33-37)
Who is your master?
Jesus used the allegory of a doorkeeper to help his disciples understand their role and responsibilities as caretakers for the kingdom of God on earth.
Firstly, the disciples needed to know that they were no longer to live for their own pleasure. In choosing to follow Jesus they were laying aside their own desires and preferences to serve God. One of the great paradoxes in Christianity is that although we have been set free from the chains of sin and death, true freedom is only experienced when we choose to become servants of the Most High God. The apostle Paul wrote "It was for freedom that Christ has set us free" (Galatians 5) and referred to himself as a slave to righteousness in Romans 6!
Questions for reflection:
Have you welcomed Jesus as your Lord and God as your heavenly Father?
Do you consider yourself to be an owner or a caretaker of things you value in your life?
Do your daily choices reflect that position?
Put your shoes on:-
"Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open up the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes." (Luke 12:35-37)
Secondly, the disciples needed to stay awake, or alert. What does it mean to be an alert disciple of Jesus?
One of my biggest frustrations since becoming a mother is my inability to arrive anywhere on time. I was brought up with the mantra 'If you are five minutes early, you are already ten minutes late'! To try and improve this situation I can often be heard giving the children a ten-minute warning. The announcement always includes two instructions: go to the toilet, and, put your shoes on. I know that if we all have our shoes on, there is a chance of us arriving at our destination on time; we can manage without coats and hats, but unless everyone is wearing two shoes, we are not going anywhere.
How is this relevant for life as a 21st century disciple of Christ? I have been reading the book of 2 Timothy over the past few weeks and have been astounded by how much advice Paul manages include in the first three chapters about being prepared for service. Here are some of the key pointers he gives Timothy.
Take time to develop your gifting.
Other people can confirm your gifting. Find teachers and mentors who behave well, teach the truth and who display evidence of the fruit of the Spirit in their lives.
Don't be timid.
Timidity only results in mediocrity and is a sure-fire sign that you have no idea of the power living inside you. Put your 'self' to one side and allow your love for others to motivate you in using the deposit that God has entrusted to you.
Be a good soldier.
Say NO to civilian entanglements and focus on your mission to please your commander-in-chief. Don't be quarrelsome, or give time to debating with quarrelsome people.
Be a winning athlete.
Say YES to Jesus. The apostle John tells us at least five times in his writings that keeping Jesus' commandments is evidence of our love for him (1). Equip yourself in preparation for obedience by becoming familiar with God's Word.
Keep yourself clean and ready.
Present yourself to God as one approved and ready for the good works which He has prepared for you. Work with a clear conscience. Don't allow anything to come between you and God, or between you and other people.
Questions for reflection:
Do you know your gifting?:
Maybe you could find others with a similar gifting who could help you. Have you asked others you trust to confirm your gifting?
Do you consciously choose to lay your 'self' down as a living sacrifice so that you can fulfil your potential as a temple for the Holy Spirit to dwell within you?
Do you know your commander-in-chief? Can you hear his voice?
Do you know your mission?
What has God asked you to do today?
Are you keeping yourself clean from the inside out and able to work on his behalf?
Keep your shoes on:
Sometimes, in the over-scheduled craziness of 21st century parenthood the children and I arrive home from a sports group at quarter past three before having to go out again for a dancing lesson which starts at four. You know what I'm going to say don't you? Yes - keep your shoes on! Woe betide anyone who chooses to get comfortable in this short span of time. I even peep at the feet of those who dare to sit down to check that they are still suitably shod. I know that if we get too comfortable, there is a risk that we will not be punctual or prepared for the next event.
Long-term success is built on short-term choices. Don't make a resolution to be a better disciple. Instead why not ask God in which one of these areas you need work on.
Once you have your focus put some reminders in place. Maybe you could put a regular alert on your phone, or stick a note on your mirror.
Maybe every time you put your shoes on, remind yourself of Jesus' challenge to stay awake. You could even write STAY inside your right shoe and AWAKE inside your left one. (If you do not buy your own shoes, please ask permission from the person who does before applying graffiti!)
Take it slowly, it takes at least 18 days for your habit to become an automatic impulse, and can take longer depending on your personality and your lifestyle (2). Remind yourself that your goal is not to become a super-disciple (how you would measure that I have no idea!), rather your goal is to form a habit which will transform you to be more like Jesus, one day at a time.
1) John 14:21 & 23; John 15:10; 1 John 2:3; 1 John 5:3; 2 John 1:6
2) Lally, P., van Jaarsveld, C.H.M., Potts, H.W.W. and Wardle, J. (2010), How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. Eur. J. Soc. Psychol., 40: 998-1009. doi:10.1002/ejsp.674