“When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.” vss. 3-4
Matthew remembers a story that Jesus told and uses it to address the problem of Christ’s delayed return. Evidently some in his community were like the five foolish bridesmaids. They were ready to greet the returning bridegroom…but they hadn’t expected to wait…and their lamps burned out…and they have no reserves. That can easily happen for those who begin their life in Christ with high expectations for the future. Often they’re confident that good things will come quickly, that prayers will be answered, and life will be different. But then there’s a delay…life grinds on and nothing changes…and expectations fade. Belief itself becomes tenuous when there’s no sign of Jesus, and some begin to drift away from community. Soon they’ve entered the category we’ve begun to call the “nones,” those who have no strong commitment to anything, only a vague sense of a vanished faith. And then when Jesus does show up, as he surely will, they’ve lost the means to welcome him into their hearts. Matthew hints that the wise will be ready for a delay and will continue living with constant expectation–even when life turns sleepy and boring. Their faith reserves are full and they’re comfortable in community even in the times when it seems nothing is happening. And when Jesus does come, they’re ready…and their hearts are filled with joy.
Thought for the Day: What might I say to a “None”?