The other day I happened to see a brief note on my cellphone with this title: How Are People So Casual About Covid-19? The writer had the answer: because they haven’t had any close experience. He had a cherished friend of three decades who picked up the virus, went into the hospital, and died. That was it. His view of Covid-19 is no longer casual.
Which is exactly why we need to be consistently careful. Old rules get tiresome. We get weary of washing our hands, and wearing our masks when we go out in public. But the lesson is here, that casual can be dangerous.
Because casual usually means relaxed, unconcerned, and therefore careless.
Isn’t it a lesson for our spiritual lives? Where did any prophet of God ever recommend being casual, relaxed, unconcerned about our relationship with God?—especially as we await the arrival of our Judge and King!
What did the King Himself say about how we should anticipate His arrival? It is in the parable of the householder:
Luke 12:35–36 35“Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; 36and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately.
Robes (of character) all washed and pressed.
House (of life) all cleaned and in order.
Lamps (of faith) well fueled, trimmed, burning brightly.
That means BE READY. On alert. Not casual.
And if he comes later than expected?
Luke 12:38 38And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants.
Still awake, still alert, still watching.
Jesus said it again and again. We have it from Mark’s gospel.
Mark 13:35–37 35Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— 36lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”
On alert. On the watch!
Paul said it in his epistles. Certainly not casual.
Romans 13:11 11And do this, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed.
He said it again to the Corinthians—and us.
1 Corinthians 15:34 34Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.
Paul is emphasizing our responsibility to be diligent, not casual. Awake, not relaxed.
The underlying point is our responsibility. First, the knowledge of God does not just “come” to us. We have to study and apply our minds to it.
Then he makes either of two possible lessons. Both need diligence.
1- “Awake and stop sinning,… shame on you for sinning when you know better.”
In other words, live to the level of your knowledge. Paul says of those who do not know God, their sins will be covered by a cloak of ignorance. You will be judged, he says, because you are responsible.
2- “Awake and stop sinning… some of you lack knowledge… you should be ashamed.”
Again, their lack of knowledge was not excusable. With the opportunity they had had, they should know very WELL what they should do. Paul says, “You should be ashamed of your lack of knowledge!”
Either point is a lesson to be alert and watching our conduct, not casual or careless, because we are accountable for what we know.
Why so much warning to be alert and watching? Because there would be a great temptation to relax, to be casual and unconcerned. It would be a time when
2 Timothy 3:13 13…evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
It would be a time of extreme godlessness. Paul called it “difficult times,” a “time of trouble.” Notice the wording of the prophecy in the New English Bible.
2 Timothy 3:1–5 (NEB) 1You must face the fact: the final age of this world is to be a time of troubles. 2Men will love nothing but money and self; they will be arrogant, boastful, and abusive; with no respect for parents, no gratitude, no piety, no natural affection; 3they will be implacable in their hatreds, scandal-mongers, intemperate and fierce, strangers to all goodness, 4traitors, adventurers, swollen with self-importance. They will be men who put pleasure in the place of God, 5men who preserve the outward form of religion, but are a standing denial of its reality. Keep clear of men like these.
Can’t we see the fulfillment more and more? No time to be casual!
Job described the same mindset we see today.
Job 21:14–15 14…they say to God, ‘Depart from us, For we do not desire the knowledge of Your ways. 15Who is the Almighty, that we should serve Him? And what profit do we have if we pray to Him?’
Even among those who might seem to have honor for God, often the words of Isaiah are true.
Isaiah 29:13 13Therefore the Lord said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths And honor Me with their lips, But have removed their hearts far from Me, And their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men,
Jeremiah told the people of his day the same.
Jeremiah 4:22 (REB) 22My people are foolish, they know nothing of me; senseless children, lacking all understanding, clever only in wrongdoing, but of doing right they know nothing.
It is a parallel to the situation in Israel in the time of the judges.
Judges 17:6 6In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
Are our feelings casual about the evil being flaunted all around us?
How did Lot feel about it in his time? The apostle Peter knew, and he tells us:
2 Peter 2:7–8 7[God] delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8(for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)—
What was their “filthy” conduct? It sounds much like what we see today. The word filthy means “lack of self-constraint which involves one in conduct that violates all bounds of what is socially acceptable” (BDAG). Thayer’s lexicon says it is “unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, lasciviousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence.”
Doesn’t it tell us the day of the Lord is right upon us?
No time to be casual. Only time to hear Jesus saying:
Luke 21:28 28Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”