Friday, April 14, 2017

Are We Really Paying Attention?

                I was walking through the grocery store last week, when I overheard a brief conversation between a customer and an employee. The customer stated that Sunday was going to be Palm Sunday. The employee responded, I don’t pay attention to that stuff.

                Today is Good Friday, one of the most significant days of the year for Christians. Today is the day that Jesus went to the cross. But are we really paying attention? Are we really embracing the significance of what this day is intended to remind us?

                In our busy, secularized world, we can unknowingly slip into spiritual amnesia. We can go through the motions of our faith, without really engaging in the reality of it. It scares me to think that I might be sleepwalking through my faith.

                One of the common refrains in the New Testament is be alert. Now 2000 plus years after the events of Good Friday, we desperately need to wake up and be alert. When Jesus taught about His eventual return in power and glory, he warned us to be alert.  Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. (Mark 13:33)

                When Paul talked about being equipped for the spiritual battle that we are engaged in, he challenged us to be alert and stay connected with God the Father through prayer.  And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. (Ephesians 6:18)

                We cannot afford to let down our spiritual guard. We are far more vulnerable than we realize. We have an enemy that is crafty and cunning and knows how to take advantage of our weaknesses. Peter understood that well. In his fist letter he wrote, Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

                I wonder if Peter was reflecting on that first Good Friday when he wrote those words. Jesus had asked Peter, James, and John to join Him in prayer for the ordeal that was before Him. As Jesus fervently prayed, Peter fell asleep. Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak." (Matthew 26:40-41) Later that day, Peter gave into the pressure of the crowd and denied Jesus three times.

                On this Good Friday, I have to wonder if we have fallen asleep on Jesus again. Have we allowed the things of this world to become too important? Have we allowed the cares of this world to weigh us down? Have we allowed our spiritual senses to become dull? Good Friday is a call for us to wake up and pay attention to what really matters.

Romans 13:11-12
And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.

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