What Are You Waiting For

Mark 1:15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”  

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” ― Ferris Bueller. Great movie. Great movie character. Not a real dude. 

But that is a great soundbyte if there ever was one! Solid message. Stay sharp, look around and take it in. Life happens fast, you don’t want to miss it. “Be Here Now,” as the title of the classic hippy book went. 

There’s another great movie moment, Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs. Dark Helmet and Colonel Sanders are trying to figure out how to outsmart the good guys, and they decide to break the 4th wall – “hey, let’s just watch the VHS version of this movie and skip ahead to see what their plan is!” They rent Spaceballs, and fast forward. Then, something strange happens! They find themselves watching themselves watching the VHS of Spaceballs, ad infinitum – they are watching the same scene on VHS as they are currently acting out on set! 

Dark Helmet: What the heck am I looking at!? 

Colonel Sanders: Now! You’re looking at now, sir. Everything that’s happening now, is happening, now. 

DH: What happened to then? 

CS: We passed it. 

Dark Helmet: When? 

Colonel Sandurz: Just now. We’re at now, now! 

Dark Helmet: Go back to then! 

Colonel Sandurz: When? 

Dark Helmet: Now! 

Colonel Sandurz: Now? 

Dark Helmet: Now! 

Colonel Sandurz: I can’t! 

DH: Why? 

CS: We missed it. 

DH: When? 

CS: Just now! 

I think when it comes to the spiritual life, a lot of us are Dark Helmet, and God is Colonel Sanders. We get tied up with “then,” but God is all about “now.” We worry about our past, our mistakes, but Christ died to wipe our slate clean for divine service, so we can move on from the past – and get moving now. 

Our God is a God of urgency. He is a God of immediacy. He is a God of now. The Bible says, God designated a certain day, “Today” – for salvation.  “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” 

He didn’t say “Your chance was yesterday, and now it’s too late”. But he also didn’t say, this can wait ‘til tomorrow. He said, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” This is the Word of God – if anyone is hearing this for the first time today, this word is for you. Today’s the day. 

And if anyone is a believer, this word is for you too. God is calling you to Him. He has a plan for you. He is speaking to you, if you are listening. He has a role for you in His Kingdom, if you are ready. “And if you are ready He always is ready for you,” like Lenny Kravitz sings. 

There are believers and preachers who say that God is putting certain things off until “the end.” The world is a fallen place, they say, and it won’t be redeemed until His Kingdom comes. It’s a familiar old song. With all due respect to my fellow believers and ministers — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John recorded the tune a bit differently. This might just be hearsay, but they said that Jesus said, “The time has come, The kingdom of God has come near.  “Repent and believe the good news!” 

Is the word of the Bible hearsay, or is it the Good News? Jesus said – two thousand years ago — “The time has come! And the Kingdom of God has come near!” 

Jesus proclaimed the time had come, two thousand years ago; he said the Kingdom of God has come near, two thousand years ago; He handed the keys of the Kingdom to Peter, two thousand years ago; he empowered all of his disciples to bind and loose in the Kingdom of God, on earth by the power of heaven, two thousand years ago.  

That was a long, long time ago. What are you waiting for? 

Jesus said, the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, the smallest of seeds, but it grows into the biggest of trees. Well, Jesus planted it two thousand years ago: he had his 12 apostles, then it grew with another 70 disciples; on Pentecost, 3,000 were added in growth. St. Paul says they were all “rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the Kingdom of God’s Son” (Col. 1:13). That mustard seed Kingdom became a big tree Kingdom, getting bigger in bigger on earth and in heaven. Can we number all the lives who have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the Kingdom, and that reigned not just on earth, but continue to reign in heaven? As numberless as the stars in the sky! 

Jesus did all this work two thousand years ago — it’s a done deal. That’s why he said, “It is finished.” So: what are you waiting for? 

God is speaking to you. God’s got a vocation for you, a calling – he has one for every man and woman. He has a role for you in his kingdom, and here we are sitting in it – what are you waiting for? 

***  

Now when I say, “What are you waiting for” — I mean to rouse excitement, not to condemn. I know from personal experience that discerning God’s call can be a slow and painful process. You have probably experienced this in your life. He is speaking to us, but it can be hard to hear him. And even when we hear him, it can be hard to understand.  

It is tempting to ask for signs. And God is good to give us signs, but on his watch. Jesus said, “a wicked and perverse generation seeks a sign.” That means we’re not to tempt God when it comes to discerning our vocation as Christians, because really, the answer is right in our face: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Mt. 37-39). 

We don’t need signs when we have commandments. We’ve been given so much already. We have a strong foundation in Christ – our calling is to build up on Him. What are you waiting for? God has made at least that much simple enough for us. 

*** 

Sometimes, we have more complex problems in life, and we are unsure of what to do. Sometimes, we have an urgent problem – but we don’t know how to answer it with the right urgent solution. 

There is a great story about a woman named Judith in what’s called the Deuterocanonical writings. As an aside, I’m a fan of the Deuterocanonical writings. Folks like Luther and Calvin decided to discard them from the Bible, in order to imitate the Jewish Bible of the time; but the Early Church did use them, because of how they pointed to Christ – 14 books that were in all the earliest Christian Bibles until about the 17th century. The Apostles quote these writings in their Gospels and Epistles. These were the stories that Jesus grew up with in his Bible. One of them is the story of Judith. 

In her day, the Assyrians were planning to invade the holy land. And the Assyrian general’s reputation was fierce. He surrounded the land and cut off the water supply, trying to starve out the Jews. The tribal elders got together and decided, we’ll wait five days – if God doesn’t intervene by then, then we’ll surrender the nation to Assyria. 

Well, a beautiful, pious widow named Judith speaks up at this meeting. She stands up to them and says, “What you said today is not right…who are you to put God to the test today, setting yourselves in the place of God in human affairs?… For if he does not plan to come to our aid within the five days, he has it equally within his power to protect us at such time as he pleases….Do not impose conditions on the plans of the Lord our God… So while we wait for the salvation that comes from him, let us call upon him to help us, and he will hear our cry if it pleases him. 

“Besides all this, let us give thanks to the Lord our God for putting us to the test as he did our ancestors.” 

What a holy attitude! Not only does she rebuke them for putting God to the test, and remind them to pray; she admonishes them all to give thanks for the terrifying trial they were facing. 

But the story doesn’t end there. There’s more. Why there’s never been a movie made about this is beyond me. Wait ‘til you hear it. The elders, after Judith speaks, commend her for her holiness, and ask for her holy prayers. 

But she’s not stopping at prayers. She has a “What are you waiting for” attitude. Here’s what she says: “Listen to me! I will perform a deed that will go down from generation to generation among our people. Stand at the city gate tonight to let me pass through with my maid; and within the days you have specified before you would surrender the city to our enemies, the Lord will deliver Israel by my hand.” 

She dresses herself beautifully, sneaks out of the city, and goes to the enemy’s camp, and wins the Assyrian general over with her beauty and charms. He gets drunk, and she gets close to him, alone. And in the middle of the night – she beheads him, escapes, and takes his head to her people. This gory sight kills their dread and fills them with fire – while the Assyrians are filled with terror when they discover what has happened to their leader. The Jews go after the Assyrians, and though they had many less numbers, they had hope, and faith, and the fire of God’s Spirit on their side, and the Jews won. 

Judith heard God’s call — “What are you waiting for?” She wasn’t content just to pray and wait. She listened and heard what he was calling her to do. She heard, and she said “Amen” to His will, and she praised Him, “This will be a glorious monument for thy name, when [the Assyrians] shall fall by the hand of a woman.” 

*** 

Now, the stories of faithfulness under the Old Covenant of Moses are of a radically different type than the stories of faithfulness under the New Covenant of Jesus Christ. We are not defending a Kingdom that has boundaries and sits on a small land of milk and honey; actually, we’re on the offensive, preaching about a spiritual Kingdom that has no earthly boundaries whatsoever, nor is there anymore a even a boundary between heaven and earth, since he tore the veil. “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight…But now my kingdom is not of this world.” (John 18:36) 

Nonetheless, the urgency with which Judith went on defensive is the same required of Christians for our spiritual offensive. We are called not to behead kings but to bow our heads to the Heavenly King, and lead others to do so not with force, but with the preaching of the good news; we are called not to do battle with nations, but to minister healing love and reconciliation to all people, in the name of God. That’s what he has commanded us to do in Christ. So what are you waiting for?  

Remeber what I said earlier: don’t be like Dark Helmet. Be like Colonel Sanders! 

Dark Helmet: Go back to then! 

Colonel Sandurz: When? 

Dark Helmet: Now! 

Colonel Sandurz: Now? 

Dark Helmet: Now! 

Colonel Sandurz: I can’t! 

DH: Why? 

CS: We missed it. 

DH: When? 

CS: Just now! 

[Be like Colonel Sanders.] “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” We are called always to a life of repentance. The call Jesus put out two thousand years ago on earth is still sounding from heaven: “The time has come! The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” 

So what are you waiting for? Amen. 

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