Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross
Some have called it the “doom boom.” Before Covid, Digital Media Solutions estimated that there were some 3.7 million Americans who classified themselves as “survivalists” (source). From food to water, from clothing to shelter, a growing number of people are stockpiling, hoarding, or whatever term is most relevant to their situation. Actions range from accumulating ammunition, gasoline, and can goods to building high-end luxury apocalypse shelters. Whoever the perceived enemy is, shadow governments, foreign nations, social revolutionaries, or some combination thereof, people want to be ready! It helps them feel calm even as they have friends, neighbors, and family who seem to be doing nothing to prepare for such increasingly plausible scenarios.
Scripture does talk about the importance of preparation. True, the Bible talks about how the ant “prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest” (Prov. 6:8). But even greater emphasis is put on a different kind of preparation. God directs us in this readiness.
Are you prepping for every good work (2 Tim. 2:21)? Paul tells us how that’s done in context. We must “avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness” (16). Paul gives as an example of this people who upset the faith of others by saying the resurrection had past. He also says to “flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace” and “a pure heart” (22). Then, “refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels” (23; “split hairs,” 14). An untamed tongue (Js. 3:2ff), unholy craving (1 Cor. 10:6), and undisciplined mind (Prov. 4:23) can really keep us from being prepared to do the good works God designed us to walk in (cf. Eph. 2:10)? The aim, according to Paul, is to be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master” (21). Is what we do each day prepping us for that?
Are you prepping your mind for action (1 Pet. 1:13)? Peter writes this to a people facing persecution and spiritual adversity (6). In the first of a series of imperatives, Peter tells them to “prepare your minds for action” (literally, “gird the loins of your mind”). The word is only found in this verse, but “It is taken from the custom of the eastern nations who, when they had occasion to exert themselves (as in journeying, running, etc.), used to bind up their long–flowing garments by a girdle or belt about their hips” (Zodhiates, The complete word study dictionary, np). So, the idea is cinching up what’s loose. Peter says you prepare your mind for action by keeping sober in spirit. I find it interesting how often sober-mindedness is connected to preparing for the judgment (1 Th. 5:6,8; 2 Tim. 4:5; 1 Pet. 4:7; 5:8). Even in this passage, Peter follows this command up with the command, “fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” There’s the action now of living the faithful Christian life, even in the face of opposition. Then, there’s the action of fixing your hope on Christ’s coming. We prepare to live in the present while preparing for the end.
Are you prepping for the Lord (Lk. 1:17)? Luke tells us that John the Baptist was sent “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” We can read in the New Testament that he was success in helping some do that, while so many others thought he was crazy and still others so dangerous that they resisted him. Ultimately, a wicked man who already wanted to kill him but was afraid of the many who regarded John as a prophet, found occasion to take his life (Mat. 14:5ff). His mission ultimately succeeded (Luke 7:22-23). Of course, Jesus Himself is eventually killed, but that death was necessary to help prepare us for His second coming (Heb. 9:28). There is a song which admonishes us, “There’s a great day coming…when the saint and the sinner shall be parted right and left, are you ready for that day to come?” How tragic to be stockpiling for an armageddon but unprepared for the Judgment.
These may seem like dire days full of foreboding. Whether economic collapse, social unrest, or political corruption, we may be concerned about civil or national trouble ahead. Yet, that is not what Scripture emphasizes. Scripture emphasizes how God wants His people preparing to do good, think right, and be ready for eternity. All our “stuff” will be burned up in the end (2 Pet. 3:10). Our souls never die, and we will be somewhere eternally (Mat. 25:46). Each day is about prepping for that! May we encourage each other to get ready and stay ready!