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Are You Watching?

Christ commanded us to watch and be sober as his return draws near (1 Thess. 5:6). How do you as a teacher or minister exhibit this in your own personal or home life? Provide some examples of where this can be seen, either in your life or the life of the church. How do you teach and preach this to covenant youth and the congregation who are bombarded with the world’s philosophy to live for themselves?  

The morning bell rings. Mr. Johnson, the second-grade teacher, scans his classroom and is needed everywhere. Sarah is standing by his desk with questions about her homework. Molly walks in crying with a scrape on her leg from the playground. Elliot is in line behind Sarah, excited to share that today is his sister’s half-birthday. James and John are fighting over baseball cards. Papers lay ungraded all over his desk. The secretary walks in, asking for attendance that has not yet been received.  

Busyness. The life of an educator is busy! Some might take one look at Mr. Johnson’s classroom and say that Mr. Johnson needs a “self-care day.” The world today acknowledges this and claims that teachers need to sit back and take more time for themselves. However, as I think about how my life will change becoming a teacher, I am reminded of Christ’s constant call to me. Watch and be sober. Although the world might advise teachers to live for themselves, Christ commands Christian educators to be steadfast and watch for his coming by living a sober life and fighting against the battles of their sinful flesh.  

The world today has taken on the philosophy that happiness is gained by living for yourself. Do what’s best for you. Live a little. Take risks. Be proud of who you are. Self-care. Live for yourself. Be the master of your life. Self-love is the best love. Self, self, self! These are qualities that are taken on by the children of darkness. The children of darkness are spiritually sleepy. They are not watching for the coming of the King, because they are too concerned about living their lives for themselves and not for the sake of the one who created them. 

Are you sleepy? The Christian educator has no reason to be spiritually sleepy. In fact, as “children of light” (1 Thess. 5:5) we have a calling to wake up and watch! To watch means to be alert or on guard for something or someone that is coming. Jesus gave his disciples this one-word command in Mark 13:37: “And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.” In this verse, Jesus is not only speaking to his disciples. He is speaking to all the children of the light.  

In his wisdom, Jesus gave his disciples signs that could be passed down through sacred Scripture so that his elect would know what to watch for. There will be lies, deceit, false prophets, and false Christs (Matt. 24:4–5; Mark 13:5–6). There will be wars and rumors of wars, with nations rising against nations, and kingdoms against kingdoms. There will be hardship: famines, pestilence, and earthquakes (Matt. 24:6–7; Mark 13:7–8). In addition, Christians will be persecuted, and sin will abound (Matt. 24:9–12). Though sin will abound, the gospel will not perish. It will be preached to every tribe and nation of the world, so that not one single soul is left with an excuse. All will know that Christ is Lord! 

In order to properly watch for the coming of Christ, the Christian educator must be sober. According to Rev. Rodney Miersma, to be sober means to be spiritually temperate. Spiritual temperance means four things.1 First, the Christian teacher must fight against the spiritual temptations that lay within his heart. Due to his total depravity, the Christian teacher might be tempted to become impatient with students, unloving toward parents and staff, and selfish in his own desires. He must pray for grace to fight against whatever spiritual battles come into his heart.  

Second, the Christian educator needs to be of a sound mind so that he is able to properly discern the coming of Christ. To keep a sound mind, he needs to be in the word of God. The Christian teacher must live a life that is close to Scripture and characterized by communion with God.  

Third, the Christian instructor is to live an antithetical life apart from the drunken children of darkness. There are two types of teachers in this world: godly teachers and ungodly teachers. The Christian teacher must make known to those around him that he is a godly teacher.  

Fourth, the Christian teacher is to place his joy and happiness in Christ alone. Only Christ can satisfy his sin-stained soul. His students, as happy as they make him, will never satisfy him. His work, as much as he enjoys it, will never satisfy. Only Christ, as his foundation, will truly satisfy. 

Watch and be sober. This is our calling as teachers living in a dark world. To be reminded of how we are to watch and be sober as teachers, I have come up with five words that describe how believers are to walk as they are watching and waiting for Christ’s return. The five words are not hard to remember, as they spell out the word WATCH. 

First, Witness. In my daily walk as a teacher, am I being a witness for Christ? Can others see that I am a child of light, or will they mistake me for a corrupt child of darkness? Am I representing Christ in all that I say and do? Am I ashamed of the gospel of Christ, or am I delighted to share the gospel of my salvation (Rom. 1:16)? God has been pleased to bless our country with the freedom of religion. Therefore, we have the opportunity to enjoy the blessings of church life from Sabbath to Sabbath. Church members, invite your friends. Invite your neighbors. Invite your family. Be a witness and share the blessings of church as we watch and wait for the coming of Christ! 

Second, (be) Aware. Am I aware, as a Christian educator, of who I am watching for? Do I have a certain knowledge of who my Savior is? Am I striving to know him every single day through personal devotions and time spent in his word? In the church, we can gain an awareness of our Savior. To God be the glory for the preaching of the gospel! Listen diligently to the preaching of the gospel as it will instruct the church to live soberly in all doctrine and godliness.  

Third, Think. As a teacher, what am I thinking about? Are heaven and spiritual things on my mind, or is my mind filled with vain thoughts such as how I can look better as a teacher or how I can seek better for myself? As a church, where are our thoughts placed? Are we constantly thinking about how we can attract more members to our church to increase our numbers? Are our thoughts on giving Christ glory while we worship and sing psalms, or are we distracted with worldly thoughts and pleasures?  

Fourth, Cherish. Who or what am I cherishing above all else as a teacher? Is God the chief priority in my life? Am I loving him and my neighbor, or am I cherishing my own self above him and the needs of others? Oh church, cherish! Are we as a church cherishing a minister above our Master? Are we idolizing the worldly celebrities or sports heroes above the communion of the saints? Are we loving and serving our neighbor as Christ commands? 

Fifth, Hope. While teaching (and in life in general), is my hope found in Christ alone? Am I strapping on my helmet of hope every day (1 Thess. 5:8), or am I forgetting to wear it and placing my hope in others? As a church, where are we placing our hope? Is our hope in Christ? Are we hoping for his coming, or are we placing our hope in this world, hoping that the economy will get better or that we will get that bonus from our job?  

WATCH. Witness, (be) Aware, Think, Cherish, and Hope. In order to remain calm, amidst the busyness that teaching brings, the Christian educator must live in sobriety, keeping his focus on his Lord and watching for his coming.  

The spiritual battle between children of darkness and children of light is not just a battle for adults. Covenant youth are being fought against as well and need to be trained for battle. Today’s TV shows portray a mockery of obedience and respect for parents, as well as other authority figures. Covenant youth are influenced by this, thinking that children have the right to do whatever they want. Again, the portrayal of living for self is emphasized. As young people get older, co-workers might tempt them to live for themselves by striving for success and making as much money as possible.  

The Christian educator is called and given the opportunity to speak truth into the hearts of covenant youth. Christ has called him to prepare students for battle by teaching them how to watch and be sober. The Christian teacher must train his students to be a witness for Christ. He must instruct them to live unashamedly in their walk, proclaiming the gospel of Christ to all they come into contact with. He must train his students to be aware. In doing this, the Christian instructor may have the opportunity to train his students how to conduct proper personal devotions to better understand their God whom they serve.  

He must challenge his students to examine their minds. What are they thinking about? What are they consuming from day to day? In addition, the Christian teacher must train his students to keep God’s commandments by cherishing Christ above all else and loving their neighbors as themselves (Mark 12:30–31). Finally, the Christian educator has the calling to teach students to place their hope in Christ alone. Not in their friends. Not in their family members. Not in their teacher or their coach. Their hope must be found in Christ alone.  

Mr. Johnson took a deep breath and started walking around the classroom attending to the needs of his students and the secretary. In just a few minutes, Sarah’s questions were answered, Molly had a Band-Aid on her leg, Elliot shared his news, the conflict between James and John was resolved, the papers were stacked away to be graded at another time, and the secretary was handed her attendance slip. Mr. Johnson smiled. The day was beginning with an exciting lesson. He wrote a five-letter word on the board and handed each student a pair of plastic glasses. He then asked one simple question. Are you watching? 

 

Alaina is a senior in the elementary education program at Cornerstone University. She is a member of Southwest Protestant Reformed Church in Wyoming, MI.