Are you ready?
This was the question the speaker put to us last Sunday: “Are you ready?”
But ready for what?
He quoted the apostle Paul who, when warned by a prophet not to go to Jerusalem because of the danger there, said this: “I am ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but even to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus.”
Several days later a man named Agabus, who also had the gift of prophecy, arrived from Judea. He came over, took Paul’s belt, and bound his own feet and hands with it. Then he said, “The Holy Spirit declares, ‘So shall the owner of this belt be bound by the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and turned over to the Gentiles.’” When we heard this, we and the local believers all begged Paul not to go on to Jerusalem. But he said, “Why all this weeping? You are breaking my heart! I am ready not only to be jailed at Jerusalem but even to die for the sake of the Lord Jesus.”
Paul was ready! Ready to suffer, and ready to die if needs be.
But surely we do not need to be ready to die? At least not in the countries or continents where most of us live: Europe, America, Japan … We won’t be persecuted, imprisoned or killed for our faith, will we?
Maybe not, but let’s think of it another way. Suppose you only had 24 hours left to live. What would you do with those 24 hours?
The speaker showed us a video where people on the streets of London were asked that question. At first they were taken aback and didn’t know how to respond. They didn’t know what they would do. Then came answers like “Go to Australia”, “Spend time with my friends and family”, “Go shopping and max out my credit card!”
Some were good answers (great to spend your last hours with friends and family), some pointless ones (why buy things that you won’t live to enjoy), and some unrealistic ones (you can’t make it to Australia from London in 24 hours—or barely!)
It made us think about how we would answer.
The speaker—the pastor of a Japanese church in London—said he had thought about the question too, and concluded that he would not change a thing. He would continue sharing the love of God with people just as he always does—day in and day out.
He said that if you’re ready to die, then you’re ready to live!
Here’s Paul again:
My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.
I trust that my life will bring honour to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live.
Can we say that? Would we change anything in our last 24 hours? Maybe be a bit bolder about telling other people about Jesus?
I would certainly change some things, but not the essentials.
- I would go to my last Japanese lesson (if it fell in that 24 hours – or perhaps crash someone else’s if it didn’t!) to tell my teacher about Jesus rather than to learn Japanese.
- I would post more openly about my faith on social media and especially what it meant to me to have only 24 hours left to live.
- I would certainly Skype or call my children and grandchildren, who live on another continent, just to say, “Goodbye for now, I love you—see you on the other side”.
But in the main, I think I can say that I’m ready. Not in any morbid sense of longing for death, but simply being prepared and having no regrets when Jesus calls me home.
You see, one day, each one of us will have only 24 hours left to live; we just don’t know when that is—sooner or later.
We need to be ready all the time.
Are you ready?
The video below starts by asking a question about the point of life, and what we would do in our last 24 hours (in English) and continues with Pastor Tateyama’s talk in Japanese with consecutive interpretation into English.