You are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded.
1 Thessalonians 5:5-6 NLT
When I was in my teens, I did a fascinating six-week course at a local fire-station. Because it was held over a number of weeks I got to know the fire-fighters and became familiar with the atmosphere of the station. In many ways it felt quite relaxed but it was also clear that they were ready at any moment to respond to a call. When the deafening bells sounded, they responded instantly. As they ran, they were putting on their jackets and within moments they were all on the fire-engine and heading out of the station. It was an impressive performance and gave me a wonderful picture of what it means to be alert. That is precisely Paul’s message to the Thessalonian church. Jesus might return at any time and so they needed to ensure that they were always ready for it.
Paul tells his readers that they need to have clear heads, and contrasts this with those who drink too much. Intoxicating drink is a challenge in every society, and it was clearly the case in Thessalonica. Everyone knew what a drunk person looked like and it was a warning to the church. A drunk person is always a pathetic sight because they are, to a greater or lesser extent, out of control. This is precisely the opposite of what his readers needed to be as Christians. They should be fully in control and properly equipped. Paul gives a quick summary of the spiritual equipment that they needed. They should be protected by the armour of faith and love and wearing, as their helmet, the confidence of salvation.
The church of Jesus Christ faces huge challenges in our day, and the only way that we will be able to serve God effectively is by being alert and clearheaded. Firefighters maintain their alertness by being continually tested and trained. I recall that they would often do training exercises to ensure that they knew how to use their breathing apparatus and respond to the wide range of fires which they might face. As Christians we also need to ensure that we are maintaining a high level of readiness so that we will serve God faithfully.
Do you consider that you are alert and clearheaded?
Loving Father, in the power of your Spirit help us to be fully ready to serve you. Amen
whose will is to restore all things
in your beloved Son, the king of all:
Govern the hearts and minds of those in authority,
and bring the families of the nations,
divided and torn apart by the ravages of sin,
to be subject to his just and gentle rule;
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.