1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

If there’s one thing in life I don’t like, it’s surprises—events that occur from time to time, that have a tendency to disrupt life. Indeed, when life is going smoothly, and everything is under control, the kind of events that have a habit of changing all that and tend to make life far more complicated.

Of course, there are good surprises and there are bad surprises, and it’s good every now and again to have a good surprise. But what I like is for life to run as smoothly as possible—without any hitches and without any sudden unexpected events.

Now, in a sense, what I like is an ideal, and we all know that life’s not like that. Because whether we like it or not unexpected things do happen from time to time, and they are sometimes totally out of our control. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t do something to avoid certain situations. Indeed, we can do much to keep life running as smooth as possible.

For instance, we can try to keep on top of things. We can keep an eye out for what’s going on. That way, as events come and go, we can fit in, as best as we can, those events that are outside our control.

In regard to social events, it’s no good telling people at a surprise party that we don’t like surprises. We need to let them know beforehand.

And regarding our business affairs … If we don’t want them to blow up in our faces because of something that we have missed, we need to keep our affairs in order. We need to keep up to date, keep records, and be as efficient as possible.

Now, of course, no amount of effort will remove all surprises—some will still come. But doing the necessary preparation—doing our homework—will certainly keep some under control, and far more manageable. And, if we applied those principles to all the normal things of life, our lives would be so much easier than it would otherwise be.

Having said that, however, there is at least one area of life that I haven’t mentioned—one area of life that is still likely to deal us with a major surprise. And it’s the one that Paul mentions in his letter to the Thessalonians. It is the surprise that comes at the end of the world. But, then, if the solution to eliminating surprises—or making them more manageable—is a matter of doing our homework, then shouldn’t we use that principle for this surprise too?

So what is the Day of the Lord about? Well according to the bible it’s the day when the world as we know it ends, when Jesus comes back to take his faithful away, and the whole world—every person—is judged by God on the basis of whether they have true faith or not. Not on the basis of whether they say they believe, but on the basis of whether they truly believe.

Now if you ask me, the Day of the Lord has the potential to be the biggest surprise of all. Indeed, none of the surprises we face, today, compare with the surprise we will get then. And the biggest surprise, of course, is that it will happen when people least expect it, and at a time when people feel safe and at peace.

So how can we possibly prepare for that? Well, I have a couple of suggestions:

And the first thing we can do is to pursue a personal relationship with God. And we can do that by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. We need to accept that we can’t face life, let alone judgement day, without the help of the one who loves and cares for us most. We need to acknowledge God as a loving God, who has gone to extraordinary lengths, so that come judgement day he can declare us not guilty of the things we’ve done wrong, and, as a result, let us pass through to enjoy life in heaven with him. That’s the first step in our preparation.

And the second step—which depends on us following the first—is that we need to live in God’s light today. In other words, God has given us a way of life which is different to the way the majority of people live. And, if we are truly followers of him, we need to follow in his son’s footsteps. And that means living a life worshipping God, encouraging our fellow believers, and living a standard of life that is fitting for people of God.

As I said at the beginning, I hate surprises. Whether they are good surprises or bad, I still prefer to live a relatively even life. As a consequence, I try to avoid many of the surprises that we face. But to do that I have to be prepared. And the one thing I have to be prepared for the most is the day when I come face to face with God. Indeed, the last thing I want to face on the Day of the Lord—on Judgement Day—is being totally surprised and unprepared.

Posted 12th January 2019
© 2019, Brian A Curtis