Recently our little town has had a substantial crime wave. Vehicles were stolen, property was broken into, and items of all shapes and sizes lost to these criminals. There have also been four Churches broken into and had things taken, and another one appears to have experienced an attempted break-in.
All this activity has sent our community into full alert. As the only Church that has not experienced any theft, we are on full surveillance. I am triple checking the doors, turning on extra lights, and making sure all security is in order. We are doing everything we can to avoid being hit. The town has formed a community watch group, and people are vigilantly trying to keep their eyes and ears open for suspicious activity. Meetings are being held, police are helping coordinate, and everyone is spreading the word about these terrible actions.
This experience has reminded me of an image used in the New Testament about the return of the Lord. The expression is that the Lord will return like a thief in the night. I could find at least five times this imagery is used to describe the return of Jesus. He will come at a day and time no one expected, so we had better be ready for him at any time.
Thieves are unpredictable. The moment you let your guard down is the moment they will strike. When the months of surveillance have amounted to nothing and life goes back to normal, then we are the most vulnerable to an attack. Similarly, there have been seasons when it sure seemed like this was the time Jesus would return, and he did not. He will not come when expected.
This whole experience has amazed me as I have watched people working together, trying to protect one another, and doing everything possible to secure our community. If only we truly believed that Jesus was coming. Maybe then we would reach out to our community with the gospel, we would do everything in our power to help others, and people would be as precious as our possessions.
Here is the reality, one day, Jesus will return, and I hope you are prepared. But even if he does not come back in your lifetime, at some point, you will go to him. At some point, a different kind of thief will arrive and take away your life. One day all of us will stop breathing, and we will go to meet our maker. In one way or another, the thief comes to end our life on earth; are we living fully prepared lives. The thief is coming in one way or another, are you ready and making sure others are too?