We live across the street from Unity Baptist Church. As I write this, I can see the beautiful, quaint old church with its red-colored brick and red roof welcoming all to God’s house. However, not all the church is brick. If you draw your eyes to the top of the roof, you find a tall pointed steeple, gleaming white with narrow, antique wooden siding and housing a bell, yes, an actual, real-life metal bell.
Every Sunday morning at 10:45 sharp it rings . . . and rings . . . and rings. It rings for a good two minutes. And it’s loud! Why does it ring so loudly and “long-ly”? Because its sole purpose is to wake up passed out, distracted, uninterested, apathetic, tired, or hung-over sleeping people and inform them that the time to see God is there!
In Matthew 24 Jesus spoke to a group of people who were acutely interested in knowing when it would be time to see Him again. Jesus, sharing specifically what the climate and culture of the world would be before His return, takes a “halftime” break from His predictions to remind His disciples—and us as well—of this principal principle: “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door” (Matt. 24:32, 33).
With ISIS; earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters; accidents by plane and train; financial uncertainty; wars and rumors of wars; social and political unrest all over the world; not to mention a multitude of mental and physical health problems; children and teenagers dying from what used to be adult diseases; have we awakened from our proverbial slumber? Do we hear the bell ringing? And what will be our response?
Jesus immediately switched gears and told a story that made His point poignantly. It was a story of people who heard the bell, but it was too late to do anything about it (Matt. 25:1-13). He ended the story with this take-home: “So, my disciples, always be ready! You don’t know the day or the time when all this [Jesus’ second coming] will happen” (Matt. 25:13, CEV[i]).
God, in His mercy, is ringing that bell loudly and “long-ly”. Why? Because “God our Savior . . . wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:3, 4). It’s clear that He’s doing everything He can to wake all people up.
God is always willing to forgive our sins and give us Jesus’ perfection, eternal life.
Christian writer and prophet, Ellen White, wrote these insightful words about what’s happening in the world right now, and God’s attitude toward humanity: “God bears long with the rebellion and apostasy of His subjects. Even when His mercy is despised and His love scorned and derided, He bears with [men and women] until the last resource for leading them to repentance is exhausted. But there are limits to His forbearance. From those who to the end continue in obstinate rebellion, He removes His protecting care. Providence will no longer shield them from Satan’s power. They will have sinned away their day of grace.”[ii]
Scary, serious, and sobering words indeed. But they don’t have to be scary if God’s bell has served its purpose to wake us up and drive us to action.
If it hasn’t, get to know God today (2 Cor. 6:2), right now; confess that you’ve been asleep, unaware, or apathetic, whatever the case may be. Let Him know that you’re an imperfect sinner—yes, a sinner—who has broken His perfect law. Acknowledge that He is perfect and the only way you can get to—and with—Him is to accept Jesus’ perfect life, death, and resurrection in your place (1 John 1:9).
When we do that, He’s always ready and willing to forgive our sins and give us Jesus’ perfection, eternal life, and the promise of a fulfilled life of joy, peace, purpose, and power! (John 10:10).
He’s waiting for them to decide for Him and accept His forgiveness. He wants to come back and take us all home to be with Him (Matt. 24:14; Rev. 21-22). I can hardly wait, because I’ll be with Him forever, and—I’m embarrassed to say—I won’t have to hear that loud, long bell anymore!
Oh, happy day!
[i] Scripture quotations identified CEV are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright ã American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.
[ii] Review and Herald, Sept. 17, 1901.