Our cell phones are becoming like Swiss Army knives. You can talk, text, search for answers, use as your Bible, play music, take pictures and record videos. They do all of that, yet one of the things I’m most thankful for is that someone figured out that you can turn the camera’s flash into a flashlight. I’m getting to the age where I have to use my phone’s flashlight to read the menu in a nice restaurant or walk through a dimly lit place. I never thought I would use the flashlight as much as I do, but having a readily accessible light whenever I need it comes in quite handy. There’s more times than I can count that I’ve needed it’s light to help me see a message or to help me get where I’m going.
I don’t know if Jesus would have used a cell phone as His example if He were to give the Sermon on the Mount today, but it’s possible. As He stood on a hill beside the Sea of Galilee teaching the people, I’m sure He looked out across it and saw little towns on the sides of the other hills as He said, “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house” (Matthew 5:14-15 NLT). Are you and I lighting the way for others to find God? Do our lives give enough light for them to see His message written on our hearts?
When Jesus gave this sermon, the lights in these cities He was pointing at came from lamps that held oil. I was given one on my last trip to Israel. I came home, put oil in it and lit the wick. They give off decent light, but I’ve found that you have to keep filling it with oil if you want it to keep working. You and i can’t be the light He’s called us to be unless we are continually refilling our lives with the oil of His presence and His Word. The power of the light doesn’t come from the clay lamp, but the oil. In the same way, our flesh is simply the holder of the oil, but we must be on fire for Him and continually do the things that puts oil in our lamps. There is a world full of people stumbling around in the darkness who are depending on you and me to be the light God has called us to be. Make sure you’re living for Him in the open where all can see.
Recently a friend of mine and I were discussing Jesus’ return. We discussed how every generation has preached it starting with the early church. They thought Jesus was going to return in their lifetime. They sold all they had and pooled their money together so they could get the message of Jesus out to as many people as possible quickly. Here we are around 2,000 years later and we are still waiting. The difference now is there is no urgency among believers about His return. Believers have very little motivation in them to share their faith.
We know Jesus will return because He told us He would in John 14. In verses 2-3 He said, “There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. (NLT)” He made a promises to return and He will fulfill it. We don’t know when everything will be ready on His end, so we have to be ready on our end.
He told the parable of the ten virgins waiting on the groom. When the groom didn’t show up quickly, it became apparent that not everyone would be ready. Five had enough oil in their lamps and five didn’t. Five were in it for the long haul. They had reserves of oil to keep their lamps burning. What group do you and I belong in? Have we given up on His return? Have we run out of oil? It was late in the night when he returned. It was past the time they thought he would. We are seeing that now as people run out of the oil of urgency for His return.
When I was a kid, it seemed every Sunday we heard someone say, “It could be today! Are you ready?” We sang songs like “We Shall See The King” and “We Shall Behold Him”. We see very few of those songs now and I can’t remember how long it’s been since another believer asked about his return before my friend did. I understand we can’t have our eyes to the sky constantly, but we do need to remember it could be any day. We need to live like it could be today.
We need to serve as if He is coming soon. We need to share our faith with the lost with urgency. What if He came back and found His Church asleep and without any oil burning? My dad always told me, “Live like He’s coming back today. Plan abs prepare like He won’t come until later.” He was telling me to keep my eyes to the skies, but also make sure I have enough oil to last a lifetime in case He comes back later rather than sooner. I don’t know when He will return, but I know He will. Until then, give me oil in my lamp keep me burning til the break of day.