As my wife is currently pregnant with our 3rd boy, and due any day, I have been thinking about the Biblical call for Christians to be watchful and prepared for the day of Christ’s return. In calling Christians to be prepared, Paul uses the language of pregnancy and labor pains in 1 Thessalonians 5. Here he uses it in a negative manner to show the imminent destruction that is coming upon those who are unprepared. To those who are not prepared Paul writes, “sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.” In borrowing his theme of preparedness and pregnancy, here is why pregnancy and labor is a fitting analogy:
1. Irreversible – Once labor begins, the baby is coming. There is no turning back! This is the thrust of Paul’s argument here in 1 Thessalonians. Once Christ returns, it’s too late. Either one is prepared for his return or they are not. There is no second chance to get ready.
2. Unexpected – With modern technology and medicine we have the ability to schedule procedures and inductions to help us be prepared for a baby’s arrival. However, there still remains an unexpected, any moment nature for a pregnant mom. The baby can come at any moment. Theologically speaking, we live in a “full term” world. Christ can and may return at any moment. Many who think that the “end times” are coming fail to realize that we are now living in the “end times.”
3. Preparedness – Since 1 and 2 hold true, how foolish it would be to be unprepared. If Christ’s return is irreversible and can come at any moment, how foolish it would be to be unprepared. It would be as foolish as having a wife who is 9 months pregnant and not even thinking about making plans for the baby to come. While the baby’s arrival may be a surprise in one sense, in another sense we should be expecting his coming and preparing ourselves for his arrival.
4. Urgency – Since the baby can come at any moment and all the preparations are in place, there is now an urgency to what I need to do. Instead of sitting home and doing nothing, I now have a laundry list of tasks to complete hopefully before the baby arrives. In many ways I work with one eye on my phone and another on the task at hand. So too in God’s economy, there is an urgency to the work that He gives us to accomplish. As Christians we don’t become passive waiting for Christ’s return, but we become even more active and diligent in the work that lies before us.
So while I wait for the call that the baby is on the way, our bags are packed and ready to go. Everything (as much as we can plan) is in place and we continue about the task at hand. And so too, God calls us to be prepared, to work diligently knowing that Jesus can return as unexpectedly as labor pains on a pregnant woman.