The earthquake and tsunami gave no warning to Japan. Accidents happen without possibility of preparation. Thieves break in and steal when we least expect it.

Life is full of surprises, and unpleasant ones at that.

The End will also surprise many, but it needn’t be so.

34 “But be on your guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day close down upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will overtake all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that must happen, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36, NET

Here are three reasons, within the text and larger context of Luke 21, why it’s important to “be on your guard.”

#1. No timetable

What’s interesting is what’s not in the text. “The time of final judgment is left completely undetermined,” say L.T. Johnson and D.J. Harrington in their commentary on Luke’s gospel, “and unattached to any tumultuous events in Palestine.” Or in any other part of the world, for that matter. So, no, Japan’s earthquake can’t be tied to the end times.

Jesus said he himself didn’t know when the end would come. How then can any mere human have an idea?

Since we can’t know, that means Jesus could return at any moment. So it’s time to watch.

#2. The danger of worldly involvement

Contrary to popular opinion, the free lifestyle doesn’t make one lighter. It weighs the heart down, says Jesus. Whether you give in to your passions “with dissipation and drunkenness” or try to be the good citizen and keep up with “the worries of this life” (v. 34), a focus on this world pulls you down. And prevents readiness for the end.

Don’t let that happen. Guard against it.

#3. WorldWide Wave

The Japanese tsunami reached all the way across the Pacific Ocean. A man in California got too close taking pictures and was lost in the wave. But I didn’t worry for one minute about it reaching me.

Although natural disasters may be far-reaching, every single living human being will be swept up in the end when Jesus comes; “it will overtake all who live on the face of the whole earth” (v. 35). Are you ready for this? You won’t be unless you’re prepared, every day, every hour.

That means watching, staying on your guard.

No time to lose

Time-management gurus talk about the difference between the urgent and the important. The second coming of Christ is both urgent and important. The most urgent and the most important thing for you to give attention to today.

If you haven’t done so yet, get prepared right now.

What do you think?