Keeping Awake to Christian Responsibility
THE time for this old world is rapidly running out. How do we know? Because of the fulfillment of Jesus’ great prophecy, concerning which he said: “When you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the doors. Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things happen.”—Mark 13:29, 30.*
Of what concern is that to Christians? Of very great concern because Jesus went on to say: “Keep looking, keep awake, for you do not know when the appointed time is. It is like a man traveling abroad that left his house and gave the authority to his slaves, to each one his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to keep on the watch. Therefore keep on the watch, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, . . . in order that when he arrives suddenly, he does not find you sleeping. But what I say to you I say to all, Keep on the watch.”—Mark 13:33 37.
What coming is here referred to? Not Christ’s presence or parousia, which began in 1914, nor the manifestation of his presence, the epiphaneia, which began in 1918 with Jehovah coming to the temple with the messenger of the covenant, but to his coming at Armageddon, his apokalypsis, his revealing, to which Jesus also referred when he said: “Look! I am coming as a thief.”—Rev. 16:15.
To what must Christians keep awake? To their God-given responsibilities. Everyone who has dedicated himself to do God’s will and to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ must love and serve God, even as was required of God’s people in times past: “What is Jehovah your God asking of you but to fear Jehovah your God, so as to walk in all his ways and to love him and to serve Jehovah your God with all your heart and all your soul.”—Deut. 10:12.
What various responsibilities does this include? Among the first is to speak the word of Jehovah faithfully: “The Lord Jehovah himself has spoken! Who will not prophesy?” The early Christians appreciated their responsibility to do this, for we read that “those who had been scattered went through the land declaring the good news of the word.” The apostle Paul had an especially keen appreciation of his commission to preach, for he exclaimed: “Really, woe is me if I did not declare the good news!” This responsibility no dedicated Christian can sidestep or avoid, but he must keep awake to it, alert to all opportunities to discharge it. During the month of May Christian ministers will be doing so by featuring the Bible-study aid From Paradise Lost to Paradise Regained in their ministry.—Amos 3:8; Acts 8:4; 1 Cor. 9:16.
Christians also have a responsibility toward their neighbor, because they must love their neighbor as they do themselves. Love of neighbor requires them to warn their fellowmen of the urgency of our times, that time is running out and soon there will be no more opportunity to escape Armageddon’s destruction.—Mark 12:31.
The heads of families have a special responsibility to which they must keep awake. It is not enough for them to provide food, clothing, shelter and schooling for their offspring. These also must be made ready for the final inspection at Armageddon. Parents, read the Bible to your children, study the Bible with them, pray with them, take them to Christian meetings where they can learn more about God’s Word, along with you, and then have them accompany you in the preaching work. It is easy to neglect these responsibilities unless you keep awake.—Deut. 6:5-7.
And then there are certain responsibilities in connection with the local Christian congregation. Mature male Christian ministers are charged with the oversight, smooth operation and progress of a congregation of ministers consisting of men, women and children. Included in their responsibilities is their keeping blameless and without any reason for reproach by people on the outside. Like good shepherds, they must seek out the “lambs” that have strayed, become lost or sick and give them special attention, so as to restore them to the flock and to spiritual vigor.
Today, more than ever before, the counsel recorded at 1 Thessalonians 5:6 is pertinent: “Let us not sleep on as the rest do, but let us stay awake and keep our senses.” So let each Christian keep awake to his responsibilities to his God, to his neighbor, to his family and to his congregation. Doing that, he will gain Jehovah’s approval and can hope to survive the coming battle of Armageddon to enjoy endless life in God’s new world.
For details see The Watchtower, February 1, 1961.