Posted by: pmarkrobb | July 25, 2012

B watchful

There is a question and issue that are as old as “the church” itself.  We find them both in the context of the parable of the fig tree.  The question is intertwined with the parable, but you have to back up several verses to understand both fully.

The question I am referring to is “when?”.  Even before Jesus left earth, the question of “when will it all end?” began to be asked.  And what began as a curiosity has blossomed into a full-fledged industry today.  Visit a Christian bookstore and you will see shelves and whole sections filled with books on End Times prophecy.  Google the words “end times prophecy” and you will get nearly six million results (I am taking the small footnote below the search box’s word for it).  The question of “when?” is, no doubt, a popular and ancient one.

The parable of the fig tree comes at the end of a larger dialog between Jesus and his disciples.  Jesus provides details and an illustration via the parable in response to the disciples question, but I found it interesting how the discussion began and in the very first words Jesus utters after the question.  It is in how the discussion began that we also find the “issue” I referred to in the very first words of this post.

Several years ago I belonged to a small men’s Bible study group.  It was a great group and over the course of four years we became true brothers.  Three of the five members of the group were current or former elders/deacons, and over the course of our many and wide-ranging discussions I became very familiar with the term “the 3 B’s.”  It was never absent when they shared stories or burdens from their years as church leaders.  The 3 “B’s” are Buildings, Bodies and Budgets, and for them, so much of the focus of their leadership activities and stresses surrounded those three issues.  They longed to be true spiritual leaders, but so often they were absorbed with the realm of the physical in the demands of these three core areas.  At the very beginning of Jesus’ dialog with his disciples, we see two of the three “B’s”.

Luke 21:5 (NIV)
Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God.

I guess the “B’s” are just as old as that question of “when?”  Jesus quickly responds and makes it clear that there will be a day when that “building” will not stand, and those stones will come down.  And just as quickly, the disciples follow with the “when?” question.  Jesus will answer the question they are asking, but not before he answers the real question.  “Watch out that you are not deceived.”  Luke 21:8 (NIV)  Jesus seems to be saying that the “when?” doesn’t matter nearly as much as “who” they follow.  Being watchful and careful is important (Jesus mentions them both later in the passage), but guarding your heart is the first priority over being on guard for signs.

It is important to be watchful and to “look at the fig tree…” as Jesus suggested, but guard your heart first.  Don’t worry about events so you can follow a timeline, guard your heart and follow Jesus.

Buildings, Bodies and Budgets still have your attention?  Back up to the first few verses of Luke 21 and model the widow’s idea of budget.

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