This morning, reading through Mark, a verse stuck out to me; “Be on guard, keep awake” (13:33). In this chapter Jesus describes how there will be false teachers proclaiming to be him, leading people astray, so he commands the disciples to be watchful for His return.
This reminds me of a few things:
Be on guard against the evil one, the deceitful one.
I have to remember that life is a battle- mainly a spiritual one. Much of our struggles aren't with people but with the evil one trying to get the best of us by instilling fear, doubt and lies into our mind. What we think and feeling translates into habits and actions. Those habits and actions communicates what we believe in/ value. How we think about ourselves, others and God greatly impacts how we live out those beliefs. So if we are living in fear, doubt or lies, it will impact our actions and thoughts! For me it is easy to let one negative thought or feeling dominate my day. It is MUCH harder for me in those moments to recognize God’s goodness and to remember how good God has been to me.
Be on guard against conforming to this world.
In Romans 12, Paul echoes some of Jesus’ command by saying do not conform to this
world. I like how the Message puts it:
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—
your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God
as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking.
I’m the first to admit when I’ve been on social media for a little too long when I start wanting to respond to people only in memes and I’m constantly comparing life to a good Instagram photo. There are obviously parts of our culture that are good, like the meme from Lady Gaga’s performance last night (which I freakin' love).
But I have to ask myself if I am filtering the things I see and read with God’s word. I have to check myself- how are I doing with God? Am I believing that He is good, holy, that He provides, and He loves me unconditionally? Am I in His word? Am I loving God with my whole heart, mind, soul, strength? Am I loving my neighbor; my roommate, peer, or the person I see daily on the streets?
If not, I admit to God areas that I am struggling with and confess when my thoughts/actions do not line up with my beliefs and faith. And that ties into how we stay awake!
Stay awake by renewing our minds in the power of the Holy Spirit
The rest of Romans 12:2 points to how we stay awake.
Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily
recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around
you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you,
develops well-formed maturity in you.
Jesus was telling his followers to pay attention for His return in Mark. He was saying do not become lazy, or tired and fall asleep, missing the master’s return; instead stay awake. It is much easier to stay asleep and let the things of this world permeate our thoughts and beliefs. It is a lot harder to stay awake; to transform and renew our minds in Christ and test what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
To be on guard and keep awake ultimately means surrendering to the Holy Spirit and asking for helping, because we can’t do it on our own. We need to be reminded of the truth of who God is and to renew our minds daily.
In a time like this; I think it is SO important to be remember these things. Our current reality happening in the US is hard. Being a peace-keeping middle child; I hate seeing how divide our country is on multiple issues/topics and how there aren’t strong voices in the middle. And I know as Christ followers, we might have very different views on politics, women, economy, the world, etc. But I would hope and am praying that what would be true of us is our love. Our love for God and others. I’ll end with Paul’s words in Romans and it’s my prayer as I’m on guard and awake;
Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Romans 12:9-13