Read:  Matthew 25:1-13


         There was once a time when everyone knew that the earth

         was the center of the universe.


                “Of course, the earth stands still and the        

                 sun keeps flying around it every day.”


                “Anybody can see this with his own eyes.”


         Those who had a different idea were laughed right out

         of town by the scientists. Then, along came this joker

         Copernicus who insisted that it’s the other way around.


                “The sun, gentlemen, does not revolve about

                 the earth. The earth revolves around the



         The world’s top scientists tapped their fingers and

         looked bored.


                “Moreover, gentlemen, the sun does not

                 really rise and set. The earth is turning

                 on its axis, making a complete rotation

                 every 24 hours.”


         You can just imagine the scorn that was heaped upon

         Copernicus by the experts - the men who had always known

         and had been able to prove that the earth, naturally, is

         the center of the universe.


         Today we look back and recognize that there was only one

         thing wrong with Copernicus when he started out. He

         was ahead of his time. He knew how things really were

         even though the world, at first, thought him a fool.


         In the 6th Century B.C., the city of Jerusalem believed

         itself to be divinely charmed.


                Jehovah God will protect us from Nebecudnezzar’s


                Haven’t we been promised that our city belongs

                to God forever?


         But there was a prophet in the city those days who

         caused no end of trouble,


              — he unsettled the people,


              — he told them Jerusalem would be conquered.


         “God never promised to protect a bunch of hypocrites

         like you” said Jeremiah. “How can you expect God to

         protect you when you blaspheme His name and defy His

         holy will? Jerusalem will be conquered.”


         They didn’t exactly appreciate Jeremiah’s message,


                they all—but killed him

              —  they wanted to think that Jeremiah was wrong.


         As it turned out, Jeremiah was right — only he was

         ahead of his time. He saw what other eyes could not

         see and would not believe until destruction came.


         For 2000 years there have been people walking this

         earth who have known as Copernicus knew about the earth

         revolving about the sun, as Jeremiah knew about the

         impending destruction of Jerusalem,


              — that God has already judged this world

                   through the Cross of His Son


              — that God has already made Jesus Christ

                   Lord over the earth


              — and that soon this Christ will appear

                   openly as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.


         And for 2000 years the world has looked upon the people

         who have known these things as a bunch of crazy fools.


              “You’re telling me that the world is going

               to end?”


              “You’re telling me that this Jesus of Nazareth

               is going to actually return to rule this earth?”


                     “Give me my car keys. I’m going out

                      and get some fresh air.”


              “You mean to tell me that those plagues in

               Revelation are really going to happen?

               And there’s really going to be an Armageddon?”

                     “0, come on!”


         “Look, if you want to love your neighbor and turn the

         other cheek and all that — lovely. This world can use

         a little of that. But when you come around proclaiming

         Jesus Christ as coming back to be King and Lord and

         Judge here on this earth — you lose me.”


         To be a Christian in this world today means that you’re

         going to be a little ahead of your time. It means that

         you’re basing your life on facts that the world just

         doesn’t have — and can’t possibly believe. And so in

         the eyes of the world you can’t be anything else but a

         crazy fool.


         With Copernicus, it was different. The earth was already

         visibly turning on its axis and revolving around the sun.

         All he had to do was get them to shut up and listen care-

         fully and he could show them that he was right.


         With Jeremiah, on the other hand, it was not so easy.

         Jeremiah couldn’t prove anything until it happened as

         he said it would. Time had to vindicate him.


         Our case is like Jeremiah’s:


              Time is indeed hurling us toward that moment

              when everybody will know that Jesus Christ

              is Lord,


                  The Son of God.


         But we’re not there yet. So we’re out of step,        

         out of joint with the world, we’re crazy fools.


         We know that He’s coming back because we have been shown

         by God, in our experience, that Jesus Christ is already

         Lord.  He is Lord now!


         By the power of the Holy Spirit working literal wonders

         in our midst, we can see it,  feel it,

                               we can demonstrate it to faith.


             -  The blind receive their sight.

             -  The lame walk.

             -  Lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear.

             -  The dead are raised up and the poor have

                     the gospel preached to them.


         But can we prove to the world out there that Jesus is

         Lord? No! To the world we can prove nothing — we

         can only preach a gospel which most of them will find



         So, our problem — and it’s a big problem — is to keep

         living in this world,


              knowing that we’re ahead of our time,

             — knowing that we’re out of step with other people


         and not lose our grip on that glorious day that we’re

         waiting for, because


              — the minute you lose your grip on the future

              — the minute you lose your vision of the return

                   of the Master and His coming Kingdom


         you sink back and become a child of darkness yourself.


         If you were to go down Toledo Avenue from here to Junction

         and knock on every door and take a survey of how

         many people, at one time or another, gave their lives

         to Jesus Christ, you’d end up with quite a few.


         But, if you were to get an honest answer from these

         folks as to how many of them are still walking with

         Christ today, the number would drop to one-half,

         one-third, or one-tenth.


         You would find that the majority of people, who at one

         time or another, made a commitment to Christ, after a

         while slipped back to their old life, and that today

         they are actually more dull of mind and blind of eye

         then before their conversion took place.


         Why? One reason is because most of those who made a

         commitment to Jesus Christ were never told that to be

         a Christian is to be ahead of your time. And once

         they got into it, they couldn’t stand the strain.


         If doctors delivered babies as hastily and sloppily as

         some evangelists and preachers bring people to faith

         in Christ, few babies would live. Some evangelists are

         almost like sideshow barkers.


              “Hurry, hurry, hurry. Step right up and        

              make your decision. Get yourself saved

              from sin. Tickets 50 cents — two for a dollar.”


         Many a poor sucker who steps up and buys his ticket

         doesn’t have the faintest idea what his decision for

         Christ is really going to cost him.


         When you surrender to Jesus Christ, you are not going

         through some blubbering emotional catharsis,


              — you are anchoring your life to One whom

                   this world will never know to be the Lord

                   until this world has come to its end.


         This makes you ahead of your time.


              — You’re listening to a Spirit they do not hear.

              — You’re going by facts they cannot see.

              — You are different.


         And this world knows how to spot people who are different

         and it knows how to put pressure on these people to make

         them conform.


         The virgins in our gospel had just this problem.


              — They were ahead of their time.

              — They took their lamps and went forth to

                    meet the bridegroom,

              — only there was no bridegroom

              — they waited and waited and no

                   bridegroom came.


              “Are you girls crazy? Waiting here in the

              dark to meet the bridegroom at this hour.

              Go home and go to bed!”


         Now the virgins believed that the bridegroom would

         come and so they kept waiting for him and he did come.

         But it took the bridegroom so long to get there, that

         by the time he arrived only half of the virgins were

         still prepared — only half of them went in.


         Our Lord has been most careful to teach us how to live

         in this world as people who are ahead of our time — so

         we can hold out until He gets here. He has shown us

         how and if we don’t live this way, it’s certainly not

         His fault.


         If we’re going to survive as people who are ahead of

         our time, the first thing we have to learn is detachment.  


              — Learn to hold yourself in a detached

                   open—handed relationship to everything

                   in this world.


              — Lay not up for yourselves treasures on

                   earth where moth and rust corrupt and

                   where thieves break through and steal.


              — Sell what you have and give alms. Don’t

                   be like a man on a 50 mile hike who wants

                   to take the kitchen stove and the bathtub



         The apostle Paul teaches the same thing: detachment.

         The time is short —


              -  from now on let those who have wives

                 live as though they had none,

              -  those that mourn as though they were

                 not mourning,

              those that rejoice as though they were

                 not rejoicing,

              those that buy as though they had no goods,

              and those that deal with the world as

                 though they had no dealings with it.


         In other words, we go on living, buying, selling, working, resting, but with detachment. Making sure that

         we don’t get sucked in and chained down to this age by

         our houses or lands, or money, or wives, or husbands, or

         children. This life is a camping trip — it’s not our



         The second thing we’re going to have to learn to do if

         we’re going to survive as people who are ahead of our

         time: we’re going to start doing our banking in Heaven.


         Prove to yourself that you really believe by banking on

         the age to come,


              — lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven

                   where neither moth nor rust corrupt and

                   where thieves do not break through and steal,


              — provide yourselves with bags which wax not

                   old — a treasure in the heavens that fails not.


         Put your “money” where your mouth is. If you say you be-

         lieve He’s coming back, how come you're sinking your

         treasure in things that are going to be destroyed?


              Where your treasure is, that’s where your

              heart is.


               If your treasure’s in this world, then your

              heart’s in this world and you’re not looking

              for Him to come back.


         My friend, if all your years of toil add up to a pile

         of securities in your safety deposit box, a pile of money

         at the local bank — I say if that’s all you have

         to show for your life — what do you have?         

         If years of toil, and prayer, and suffering have won for

         you a crown of righteousness in the coming Kingdom, you

         have something.


             “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my

              cause, I have kept the faith”, says Paul.

             “Henceforth, there is laid up for me a crown of

              righteousness which the Lord, the righteous Judge

              shall give me at that day — and not to me only,

              but unto all them also that love His appearing.”


         And finally, if we’re going to survive as people who are

         ahead of our time we’ll have to learn to live in a

         continuous posture of readiness.


              Let your loins be girt about and your

              lamps burning and yourselves like men

              that wait for their Lord when He will 

              return from the wedding. That when He

              comes and knocks they may open to Him



         The flame in the virgins lamps was a symbol of their

         readiness and when the flame went out this meant that

         they were no longer ready.


         It’s very simple


              -    if you are living in constant union with

                   the Spirit of Christ,

              -    if the Christ you are communing with in

                   your heart is really the Son of God and

                   not some false Christ you’ve set up for

                   your own twisted purposes,

              -    if it’s really Christ the Son of God

                   you’re walking with, and talking with,

                   and obeying,


         then when the trumpet blast pierces the heavens you

         won’t be afraid. You will lay down your work, go to

         the door, look up at the sky, and you will know that

         you’re no longer ahead of your time — your time has

         come and that all the waiting and watching, and all

         the suffering you endured through the night hours were

         more than worth it.


         At last the Kingdom of God has come and the children

         of God will have their day — a day which will never

         end. Maranatha — may it be soon.