Is Your Lamp Lit? (Article 19-3)
As faithful followers and disciples of Jesus Christ, we must remain vigilant (ready and prepared) during these uncertain times until our Lord's "Second Coming." This point is depicted in Matthew 25:1-13, in the parable of the "Wise and Foolish Virgins." In this parable, Christ instructs us that His second coming is inevitable and that we are to live in a manner that expects His arrival, even if His return is delayed. In the interim, we are to keep our lamps prepared and lit.
We Are Called to be the "Wise Virgins." The parable of the "Wise and Foolish Virgins" symbolizes the Jewish marriage tradition of that time, where the ten bridesmaids (10 virgins) were to await the arrival of the bridegroom (Christ) and greet him with a procession of light in the darkness. However, the bridegroom is delayed, possibly due to last-minute negotiations between the groom and the bride's relatives regarding gifts to be exchanged. The main point is that for whatever the reason for the delay, it is not the bridesmaids' concern. The bridesmaids were to be ready to receive the bridegroom and should anticipate that a delay might occur.
Are You Ready? As the story continues, the five (5) of the ten bridesmaids fell asleep and were later awakened at the announcement of the groom's arrival. They immediately set about trimming and preparing their lamps for the procession. However, to their horror, they discovered that they did not have enough oil to keep their lamps burning. The "wise" maidens refused to lend their extra oil to the foolish bridesmaids, for it was too late to do so. The foolish bridesmaids had only one recourse – to go out and buy more oil for their lamps before the beginning of the procession and banquet. While out to purchase more oil, the groom arrived, and the wedding procession occurs, followed by the banquet. When the foolish bridesmaids returned for the processional, the groom denied their entrance, stating, "Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you." Consequently, the five (5) foolish bridesmaids missed the entire event.
Lesson to be Learned. In contemporary terms, although we are all invited to receive and accompany Christ, our role as invitees (bridesmaids) does not guarantee us a place at the banquet. As Christians, we must fulfill our role by ensuring our lamps remain lit and plan for the long dark time of waiting. We must "keep awake" (be vigilant), for we know our Lord's arrival is certain; however, we do not know when. To live in vigilance means to do the tasks that we have been appointed in preparation for our Lord's coming. In Matthew's Gospel, those tasks include bearing witness to God's kingdom by welcoming the stranger, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and imprisoned (Matthew 25:31-46), and making disciples in all the world (Matthew 28:19-20).
Is Your Lamp Lit? Our light must always remain lit so that it may shine before men by way of faith, and we must not fall into a slumber and sleep. We must remember that although Christ may tarry past our time. But, He will not tarry past the due time.