Text: Luke 21:20-36, Matthew 25:1-13
“But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.” —Luke 21:34
I recently returned from a seven-week mission trip to Europe, where our mission teams facilitated five baseball camps in three countries (Italy, Ireland, Germany), for the purpose of sharing the gospel with youth and children. We are seeing countless lives transformed through these ministries.
One of the things we talk about a lot on a baseball field is the emphasis of being “baseball ready”. If you are not in a ready or attentive position when a line drive comes at you, a really bad play can unfold, or worse, a physical injury might be sustained.
The gospels are replete with the idea of readiness.
Near the end of his life, Jesus had been teaching about the “distress of nations” that would one day come upon the earth. This would be a time when people’s hearts are “fainting with fear.” He told them the parable of the fig tree, illustrating a lesson of what is to come—the ultimate end of the age and Christ’s glorious return—redemption drawing near.
The disciples must recognize the signs of the times and watch closely, or guard their hearts vigilantly, that they be not “weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness of the cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.” They must stay awake and not be lulled to sleep by the trappings of the world.
The picture that Jesus gives us is one of readiness. “Dissipation” here, an antithesis of readiness, may refer to any form of overconsumption—drunkenness, excessive eating, debauchery (indulgence in sensual pleasures), or even being satiated with an impaired state of complacency. I find it interesting that dissipation and the worries of life are bundled together here. Their relationship is built on codependency. Anxiety causes people to self-medicate with intemperance, which only breeds more worry. While overindulgence may be billed as pleasure for many, after the hangover, they might agree with Nietzsche that, “the mother of dissipation is not joy but joylessness.”
When we lack the joy of the Lord in our heart, we pursue the dissipation of earthly pleasures and worldly affinities. We may then binge on carnal pleasures, selfish ambition, lust, recognition, the social spotlight, or greed. It becomes a form of escapism, a refusal to face reality—most notably the reality that Christ is not at the center of our lives, and that his kingdom is not our primary appeal. It also conveys a spiritual blindness of what is to come. We should take heed.
[bctt tweet=”When we lack the joy of the Lord in our heart, we pursue the dissipation of earthly pleasures and worldly affinities.” username=”jimmylarche”]
Jesus warned his followers to stay awake at all times (v.36). Paul alerted the believers in Rome to “wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11). God doesn’t want the cares of this life weighing us down with distracting heaviness—He wants us alive! He wants us filled with the joy of the Lord. He wants us to be like the five wise virgins who had oil in their lamps—burning with expectancy in their hearts at the coming of the bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13).
Jesus wants our hearts seduced with only one passion—the ravishing charm and gratifying allurement of his coming kingdom. This is what it means to be ready for His imminent return—on our toes for what He is up to in this season of our lives.
Heavenly Father, help us to have your lamp burning in our souls. In the field of everyday life, may we be found in a position of readiness and alertness for how your kingdom is breaking through in our world. May our joy be fulfilled in being fully alive in our fellowship with you, and our hearts filled with expectancy at your coming. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Questions for Reflection and/or Family Discussion:
- When have you ever been caught off guard by something?
- What signs will usher in the end of the age (Luke 21:23-26)?
- Why do you think Christ’s return has been likened to a “thief in the night” (Matthew 24:43, 1 Thessalonians 5:2)?
- Why do you think Jesus revealed to us these prophecies about the last days?
- In what way can you align your heart with the kingdom of God this week—so that your heart will not be weighed down by the cares of this life?
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