We spent a fair bit of our time in Australia talking about prosperity as a distinctive of Tanzanian theology, and the question of how to live wisely and well as a Christian. A fairly common question we got was how eschatology plays into this. That is, how does the return of Christ shape how Christians are to live? We had very little to say in reply because during our 3 years in Dodoma, we heard almost nothing in church about the end times. However, this Sunday, on our visit to City Christian Centre in Upanga, it was the centrepiece of the sermon.
The text was from Romans 13:11-14. “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”
The pastor started by asking, what time are we living in? Prophetically speaking, where do we locate ourselves? How close do we consider the coming of Christ to be?
We find it difficult to answer these questions because we are asleep. We live in a time when people treat spiritual things lightly. We experience peace, freedom, freedom of religion, and a good standard of living. These are good things, but we must not let them blind us to the times we are in. The church of Jesus Christ is sleeping and we need to wake up.
1 Samuel 24 was used to unpack that. Saul is asleep when David steals a part of his robe. God has given each of us a robe of righteousness, bought by the Lord Jesus Christ at the cross. Is that robe still whole or are parts of it being taken by the enemy because we are asleep?
In the following chapter, David steals Saul’s spear. In the New Testament, the spear in the sword of the Spirit. What can a soldier do without a spear? What can a Christian do without the word? Without it we are incompetent, lost, and people will die. The church must be a people of this sword, a people who will kneel in prayer and commit themselves to the word of God.
There were a couple of other examples as well. There was Matthew 13’s Parable of the Weeds, where the enemy sows weeds while the farmer is asleep. He also spoke of the Parable of the Ten Virgins where all fall asleep and when they wake up some have prepared and others haven’t, and they are turned away, because the bridegroom says he does not know them. Will you also miss the bridegroom?
Our salvation is near, and nearer than before. Do we recognise the time and that the only one who can give living water in this time is Jesus (John 7)? We must wake up and truly embrace this blessed hope, this life-giving hope. It must motivate us to mission. The night is spent, the day is here, therefore cast off the ways of darkness and put on the armour of light in this current world.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.