I’m convinced that little to nothing would get done in this world without deadlines. Houses would rarely get cleaned if guests weren’t stopping by, school projects wouldn’t be completed without a due date, and books wouldn’t get published without a deadline from the printer. I don’t know what it is about the human psyche, but we tend not to act until we know our time is limited. I may have a coupon for three months, but it’s not until the day before it expires that I get serious about redeeming it. I can get the hymns for a Sunday service on Tuesday, but it’s a pretty safe bet I won’t even look at them until Saturday night. I can steam mop the entire house in about an hour, but if the kids are in school, I will inevitably drag the chore out to last all day until I’m racing to finish in the final minutes before I have to leave to pick them up. And even though I have all week to write a blog post for Monday, I rarely ever work on it before Sunday afternoon. If I have time to waste, I’ll procrastinate with the best of them. When faced with a deadline, however, it’s time to get serious.
Read through the book of Acts and you’ll be amazed at the urgency with which the apostles spread the message of Jesus. The early church grew rapidly, despite persecution and naysayers, and the early believers were filled with zeal for the Great Commission. They travelled on missionary trips and spoke about Jesus to everyone they could. Acts 5:42 says that “day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ.” Wow. Now that’s dedication for you. What was their motivation? The early church knew that Jesus could return any moment, and they felt a sense of urgency to tell other people about Him before He returned. In other words, they were under a deadline.
Fast forward 2,000 years and it’s safe to say that most Christians have lost that urgency the early church possessed in sharing the news of Jesus. After all, if He hasn’t returned yet, what’s the hurry? We have time, right? And yet Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 6:2 that “Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (emphasis added). This idea is reinforced in Romans 13:11, where Paul says, “The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” He’s speaking, of course, about Jesus’ second coming, when we will experience the full extent of our salvation in heaven. And each day brings us closer to the Last Day.
So wake up, O Christian! Wake from your spiritual lethargy and apathy. We aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. We aren’t living in the future. We are living in the here and now. Now is the time to establish a routine of Bible study and daily prayer. Now is the time to get back into the habit of weekly worship. Today is the day to read Bible stories to your kids and teach them the catechism. It’s time to tell your neighbor or coworker about Jesus. No more procrastinating or excuses. Now is the time to get serious. We have a deadline fast approaching.