We’ve watched the growing wildfires in the Western US with more and more compassion. Thousands of people are being displaced as fires sweep through their towns and neighborhoods, taking many of their homes to the ground. I can’t imagine the grief that must come in waves as a family knows not only is their home lost but also their way of life. It will take years to reclaim what the fires of 2020 have taken.
Many look to this crazy year as a sign. I’ve heard it said multiple times “These are the last days. Jesus must be coming soon!” While this is the attitude Christians have had since the beginning, it is useless for us to speculate on a date and time for Jesus’ return.
The topic has provided millions in best sellers and TV specials but the facts remain the same. No one knows the day or the hour and no one will until we see Him coming on the clouds. Many ‘prophets’ claim to know secret information revealed to them by God only to have their prophecies proven false when their date passes or secret info is revealed. Conversations like this discredit the work of the Church more than they help it.
I get it. We want relief. We don’t want to endure this hellfire any more than we have to. But let’s keep it in perspective. We are not the first nation on earth to experience economic hardship, natural disasters and small amounts (per capita) of anarchy. One does not have to look far away or a long time into the past to discover lines of nations in the same shoes—many worse off—as us. I’m not trying to make our problems out to be less than they are but we must remember that America is not the center of the universe.
In Matthew 24 Jesus outlines what it will look like when this age is coming to a close. The famous phrase “wars and rumors of wars” is found here. It is here Jesus says “Do not be alarmed. These are just the beginning.” In other words, calm down! Take each disaster as it comes. Respond to the hurting. Love the loveless. Give them what the Gospel is designed to give best: a future. Stop being Chicken Little by saying “The end is near!”
Jesus goes on to say much persecution is coming for Christians during this time. His description of this is gruesome. And then He offers a sentence that seems to fit our times more than any other in this chapter. “Because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.” Isn’t that the dead on description of where we are right now? Instead of spending our time trying to figure out if the “Left Behind” series is going to happen today or next week, let’s spend our time focusing on our cold hearts.
Why does lawlessness and I would add chaos, unexplainable hatred and political distrust lead to cold hearts? We love comfort. We crave the safety of a predictable schedule, strong relationships, secure assets and the promise of our basic needs being met in a timely fashion. These luxuries have been enjoyed by a majority in our country for many years without too many interruptions. When they are disrupted and sometimes completely lost we feel like we’ve been abandoned. Anyone who walks through grief or personal crisis feels this way. It is in these moments we find out what our beliefs are made of.
We’ve read for years “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (the valley that is close enough to death to be marked by its shadow) I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff they comfort me.” The Psalmist is writing of the times when trouble comes and His relationship with the Lord grows hot rather than cold. What will we do in these perilous times?
I can’t encourage you enough to put your trust in the Lord. While I don’t know any more than anyone else whether we are close to Jesus’ return I do know this, He is close to us. Rather than predicting dates or studying the ‘signs’, spend your hours listening to Him, reading His Word and engaging with other believers. Instead of fear you will gain a hotter heart and in the place of anxiety you will receive love. Rather than plotting the next “Left Behind” book, lend your neighbor a hand. This is the only sure step we have in the direction of the end. Jesus said “The Gospel of the Kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world…and then the end will come.”
Come quickly, Lord Jesus! Until then we will work!