Can I borrow a cup of sugar? No one borrows a cup of sugar any more. But there are times we need to borrow something. Circumstances change sometimes, and we need to borrow a car or a TV or a telephone.
I remember the years Sione was still in seminary. We were living in an apartment. We didn’t have a cable TV. Well the Broncos game was on a cable channel. When Sione wanted to watch the game, he went to our next-door neighbor, who was also a seminary student and who had cable. So, he borrowed his living room for an afternoon to watch the game on his TV.
But there are some things you just can’t borrow because they can’t be exchanged from one person to another. You can’t borrow love. That is something which has to come from one’s own heart. You can’t borrow a good relationship. That is something you have to develop on your own. And you can’t borrow faith. No matter what the circumstances and no matter how much others would like to loan you these things they just cannot be loaned from one person to another.
Jesus’ disciples asked him, “When will we know that the end of the world is coming?” Jesus’ response goes on for two chapters of Matthew’s Gospel. About half way through Jesus tells a parable about borrowing. There was a girl who had asked 10 of her friends to be bridesmaids for her wedding. Five of these bridesmaids were wise and five were foolish. The five wise ones knew that the groom was coming from a long way and could arrive at any time of the day or night. So, they brought enough oil to see them through to the time when the groom would come.
The five foolish ones did not. They worried over their hair and their dresses and who they were going to dance with at the reception. But they didn’t think about the oil for their lamps. So, they didn’t bring enough.
It just happened that the groom was delayed. They all slept and at midnight the call came that the groom was at the gate of town and he would be there any minute. The foolish bridesmaids realized their lamps were running out so they turned to the wise ones and said, “Can we borrow a cup of oil?” The wise ones said, “If we loan you some, then we will both run out.” You had better run to the store and buy some before the groom gets here. So, they ran to get some and the groom arrived. By the time they got back the doors were closed and they were left out.
So, why couldn’t someone who was not in the wedding party go and get the oil for them? Why couldn’t they get into the party after the door had been closed? In the parables a wedding is a symbol of the coming of the Kingdom or the second coming. The groom is Jesus and the bride is the church. The bridesmaids here represent the individual believers who are waiting for Jesus to return and be finally untied with the church.
So, the oil is more than just oil. You see oil is what makes the flame burn in a lamp. Without oil there is no light to shine in the darkness. The oil represents faith, or the Holy Spirit, or a vital relationship with God. Whichever it is, it is that thing in a believer that makes the light of God shine in their lives through dark times. We don’t know when dark times are coming. We all need to have a strong faith relationship with God.
The problem is many Christians don’t develop a deep faith. They maintain a shallow supply of faith just enough to see them through the everyday troubles. Then a disaster strikes. Someone dies or an illness shocks them. When that happens, it is too late to develop faith. In the midst of a crisis it is the time we try to learn how to depend on God.
And you can’t borrow soul oil. You can get help from a Christian friend, but you can’t borrow their faith. A vital relationship with God is something you have to develop on your own. So, go buy some oil today! Start making daily conversations with God a part of your life. Study God’s word and deepen your faith. Humble yourself in service to others so that you can participate in God’s love.
Seek justice and love mercy and question your cherished assumptions so you can grow. You never know when darkness will come. If you want to be able to shine some light in the darkness of your life, get to know Jesus while it is still light. Then you will recognize Jesus when the darkness comes. Shalom and Amen!
Scripture: Matthew 25:1-13