We always need to be ready. There is no time to lose. There is no room for negligence. Are you ready?
There is an interesting little story in the Bible that Jesus tells about ten bridesmaids. Not a lot of people know this story, and rather than summarizing it, let me just share it right from the Bible:
Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’
“All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’
“But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’
“But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’
“But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you!’
“So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of my return (Matt. 25:1–13).
Kind of a strange story, right? So what does it all mean? Well, the major point of this story is to warn Christians to prepare themselves for Jesus’s return which could be at any time. Where do we see this? Well, the bridesmaids represent Christians, and the groom represents Jesus. The bridesmaids, like Christians today, are waiting for Jesus to come back and judge the world once and for all (as the Bible promises he will do). However, half of them aren’t ready! Five of the ten, even though they are dressed for the wedding and have kept themselves sexually pure, they are still not prepared for Jesus.
This is shocking! Not one, not two, but half of them aren’t ready! This clearly implies that of all the people who call themselves Christians and fill the church on Sundays, only half of them will be ready for Christ’s return! Only half of them will persevere until the end!
You may be thinking, “does the Bible really teach that?” As much as I don’t like it, the answer is YES. This truth is affirmed with these words of Jesus: “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide of the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficulty, and only a few ever find it” (Matt 7:13)
Are you ready? Half of us in the room won’t make it. Which half are you a part of?
Note that a key element of the story is that each of the bridesmaids are individually responsible to ready themselves. Too often we are too preoccupied with everyone else around us. This story reminds us that ultimately, we all face Jesus on our own in the end.
I ask again, are you ready?