Thursday, July 1, 2010

On Guard!

“Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day does not catch you unexpectedly, like a trap.”

~Luke 21:34-35a (NRSV).

This is a vital warning; so vital, in fact, Jesus seemed always to be alluding to it somehow. Perhaps this is because it’s not exclusively about end times, per se. This has just as much every-day relevance to us.

‘Letting Our Hair Down’

The words that King Lemuel’s mother spoke to him (see Proverbs 31:1-10) contain some very good considerations around drinking and drunkenness.

“It is not for kings,” she said. We could extrapolate that out to queens, as well as sons and daughters of the King of kings. Drinking is surely just one of Satan’s snares—though a powerful one at that—bringing the would-be obedient believer into paling disrepute.

“Give strong drink to the perishing,” she said. We who have life, and that abundantly, have no need of drink to sway our weary minds into the faintest visions of oblivion.

Strong drink—that which would cause any sort of inebriation or tipsy drunkenness—is more clearly for those with no hope.

Drunkenness produces a myriad of nasty results from the indelible traces of stupidity in the event itself to any nature of haranguing hangovers that take place as a result.

The word “dissipation” in Jesus’ statement in the featured passage is probably meant regarding the hangover; “the vulgar word for that very vulgar experience.”[1] After all, how do we contend with regrettable affairs? And what event of drunkenness would not be regrettable? Casting my mind’s eye back a decade (and less) I can attest personally to this.


Worries, like the ‘demon drink,’ do tend to control us and take us from the right, just and fair track of God if we don’t watch them.

In this sense, the insidiousness of worry is a trap with patents pending, basically assured.

End Times Parallels

This mini-passage (Luke 21:34-36) is set firmly in the context of end times, though we can just as easily place them—and their importance—on the here and now.

Notwithstanding this, Morris sets the thought in our minds that, “to stand [literally] before the Son of Man is to possess the ultimate salvation.” (Italics in original.)[2]

We, then, stand ‘on guard’—as if in a fencing contest—ready to approach every little wile of life with the Jesus-wisdom of moral discretion; we’re ‘inspired’ here by the very appropriate ‘fear of the Lord.’

When our time is ended ‘here’ we do not know. Then we do ‘face’ Jesus.

© 2010 S. J. Wickham.

[1] Leon Morris, Luke (Revised Ed.) – Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press, 1974, 1988), p. 329.

[2] Morris, Ibid, p. 329.

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