Living at this time in history can be very difficult, especially if you’re associated with a Christian faith. People feel let down.
There are many practices and beliefs that have disappointed people in this time. We think of the lack of genuine love that’s displayed, when so much money donated to charities gets misused. We look at the poor care for children, the tolerance of wrongdoing on the part of clergy members or elders and what about the ever-present issue of child abuse that’s been hidden away and avoided? Excuse after excuse has reached the point where people are nervous to look in any direction unless they find that instances of wrongdoing have been hidden away behind a cloak of respectability
And then what about all the various beliefs that are around today and that are so conflicting?
For example, confusing beliefs re the Trinity, though it’s acknowledged that the Trinity doctrine came into existence 2,000 years prior to Christ, and that it is drawn from Egyptian and the Assyrian culture. It is still taught and somehow promulgated as fact despite the fact that the doctrine itself does not appear in the Bible.
Then too, what about predictions regarding the end times? The world was going to end for some in 1914, later in 1975 and for some its coming next year. Disappointment upon disappointment has a huge impact on people’s faith and thinking, they wonder if they can trust in anyone. And what about the lack of spiritual food? In some organizations, the supply of spiritual material reached an all time high some years ago, but has now shrunk by as much as 90%. This has been accompanied by a shift in focus from the spiritual to the financial, with youth favored to take major roles in organizations in place of spirituality because that’s the only way to keep things going.
Interestingly, Jesus foretold the time in which we are living. Jesus foretold a time when people in general, within the realm of Christian faiths would wake up. They would feel as if they had been sleeping.
He gave this lesson in an account in the book of Matthew chapter 25, reading from verse one, Jesus said that.
“the coming of the kingdom of the heavens will be like 10 maidens who took their torches and went out to meet a bridegroom. Five of the maidens were foolish and five were sensible. For the foolish ones did not take oil with them when they took their torches, but the sensible ones took oil in receptacles with their torches. As the bridegroom was a long time in coming, they all grew drowsy and fell asleep, but at midnight there came a shout, “Look, here is the bride groom, come out, meet him.” Then all of those maidens woke up and started to put their torches in order and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, “Give us some of your oil, because our torches do not have enough.” But the sensible ones answered, “Well there might not be enough both for us and for you. Go to the market and buy oil for yourselves there”, and while they were away buying the oil, the bridegroom came and to the ones who were ready, he said, “Come with me”, and they went into the wedding and the door was shut, and afterward the rest of the maidens came also and said, “Sir, sir, open to us.” But he answered and said, “I tell you truly, I do not know you.” Keep awake then for you do not know on what day your master is coming.
This illustration has long been understood to refer to all of the Christian congregations who would be around throughout the earth in the last days.
How did the prophecy embodied in this illustration come true?
In the first century, the Christians preached a very simple message. It was not complicated or difficult, it was simple.
It had three elements.
Firstly, that Jesus was the Messiah foretold as mankind’s deliverer.
Secondly, that Jesus had died by being executed.
Thirdly, that knowing these things, we must wait for his return in kingdom power with all his angels with him to solve mankind’s problems.
As Paul wrote in first Corinthians 11 and verse 26, “You keep proclaiming the death of the Lord until he returns.”
As the first century closed, Christian congregations were incorporating into their beliefs, ideas from local culture as false teachers got involved in Christianity. The entirety of Christian faith were altered and the original message was lost.
Collectively Religions Are Asleep To Christs’ Return
This was what Jesus referred to in the complementary illustration of the wheat and the weeds. He spoke of himself like a sower sowing fine seed, and then said that an enemy would sow weeds in among the wheat. He sowed find seed, but the enemy sowed weeds. When people wanted to do something about this, Jesus said, “Wait until the harvest time, let them grow together and only at the harvest time would it be possible to tell the wheat from the weeds” and this is what happened to history.
The Christian congregation, instead of preaching the simple message that Jesus was the Messiah, that he died and that we must wait for his return, got caught up in ideas from Egypt, from Rome, from Greece and so forth until eventually the simple message of the Christian congregation was lost.
This is what Jesus was referring to in Matthew chapter 25 verse five when he said that as the bridegroom was a long time in coming, they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. Now, in the 21st century with technology, where they are today, people can check and verify. It’s hard to preach a misleading message because people can check and verify and you get caught out. Secondly, it’s hard to hide the truth. If you tell a lie, you will be caught out. People are waking up. They are feeling disappointed by their preachers, disappointed by their teachers, disappointed by the beliefs of the organization to which they belong. They want to know the core beliefs, the core truth about Christ.
People have had enough of being lied to and deceived. This is what Jesus explained, he said that as they woke up, some would put their lamps in order, and some would not. It’s an individual choice. In some cases, some are so angered by what they have experienced that they find it hard to put faith in anything anymore and so they go to those who still exercise faith and ask them, “Can you help me?” But the problem with faith is that it is a personal thing. Others can’t help us to gain the faith, we must do it ourselves. Some who have been misled and have misgivings are also like the five foolish virgins, they refuse to take action. Some who have become aware of wrongdoing in the organization to which they belong, prefer not to take a close look at their organization’s teachings, they prefer not to bother themselves with their misgivings, they squelch bad feelings. They do not put their lamps in order, they prefer to be deceived rather than admit the truth about what they have been taught.
In some cases, this is highly understandable because people have belonged to a religious organization for many years and it’s hard when one realizes that the things that have been taught are wrong.
The conclusion of Jesus’ illustration contains a double warning, the door to the wedding feast is closed, that is point number one. This is a warning to all who are waking up, to recognize the danger of the shortness of the time before Christ return. Choosing to squelch misgivings or becoming so caught up with ill feelings and ill will, does not serve us well. We cannot ignore the facts. Choosing to ignore the truth is being like stuck on a rail line as a train is coming and yet choosing to look the other way. Either way, it will hurt. We cannot live in a false paradise. It is true that organized religion has been a misleading feature of this time. Sometimes it has been done with good intentions, however. Some have genuinely believed that their ideas were correct, regardless of how fanciful or farfetched they had been. We cannot afford to reject the return of Christ less we be rejected, in turn.
The second part of the double warning was where Jesus said, we must keep awake because we do not know when the master is returning. Now it is time to wake up, and it is time to deal with the feelings. If we’ve been disappointed, well, it happened, if we’ve been deceived, well, it happened. If we’re upset over various things that have happened, well it happened. This is what Jesus foretold. We have been asleep. Christianity in total has been asleep, and now it is time to wake up. Soon a series of signs foretold in Daniel and Revelation will unfold. This makes the current period a particularly good time for Christians who are waking up.
Christ’s return will usher in amazing rewards and a remarkable time of change that will bring so much good to mankind. Those who are waking up to the deceit of organized religion, those who are waking up to the truth about the message of Christ will benefit greatly. Will you be one of those?
Embrace the message of the Christian congregation of the first century. God promised the Messiah, Jesus is that Messiah. God promised that his son would die a sacrificial death and pave the way for universal blessings, Christ did die, this is a fact. And the third part of the message is that we need to live our lives as Christians, as we wait for his return in kingdom power and all the angels with him. That time is at hand.
True, we must make some difficult decisions, but oh, what an amazing time to be alive.