I grew up going to church and spent a significant amount of time in youth group. Youth group is a really challenging area of ministry. You’re trying to convince middle schoolers who are parched for approval into thinking outside themselves and believing the gospel. If you are involved in youth ministry right now, GOD BLESS YOU, because wow, 12 year olds are really different these days. And have Snapchat. Anyway! Something I remember being really suspicious about when I was in youth group was how easy they made Christianity seem. “Free gift” was a classic phrase. “All you have to do is believe that Jesus died for your sins” was a selling point.
When I started reading the Bible, I felt a little misled. Jesus said something about selling everything we own, Paul’s all extreme about everything and the term “dying to self” was brought up a lot. “Count the cost of following me”, Jesus warns.
I love the illustration about the bridesmaids in chapter 25 today. My commentary says “on the wedding day, the bridegroom went to the bride’s house for the ceremony; then the bride and groom, along with a great procession, returned to the groom’s house, where a feast took place, often lasting a full week”. The bridesmaids were hoping to join in on the feast, but when the groom didn’t arrive on time, half of them were out of oil and missed out on the wedding feast.
This parable teaches us that spiritual preparation cannot be bought or borrowed at the last minute. Our relationship with God is our responsibility. He gives us everything we need to be in relationship with him, and is eagerly waiting.
I really like when Jesus sets boundaries with us. He is days away from literally laying down his life for us, and yet he says “you have a part in this too”. He pursues us, gently tugs at our hearts, relentlessly loves us and faithfully (yet unnecessarily) proves himself. But he wants us to be all in. He doesn’t want a lukewarm, indifferent, coat-tail-riding effort.
So, which type of bridesmaid (or man) are you? Are you putting your relationship with God on the back burner, planning to get to it later? Or are you actively preparing for Jesus’s return? What does that even look like?