I don’t go around talking about my writing, but as it has come up in conversation this month as I write on Revelation, the reactions are priceless!
“What does it all mean?” some asked in a nervous hushed voice.
“Are we in the end times?” others ask often as a rhetorical question, sometimes as a way of buffering themselves with false strength in case I declare “YES!”
“When is Jesus coming back?”
…and on it goes.
Apparently I’m supposed to be an “expert” on a book I’m in the process of studying. What’s crazy? I could tell all these expectant people who are nearly eating from the palm of my hand whatever I want and they would believe me. That’s scary. Friends, please, pick up your bible and put some miles (or kilometers) those pages! Don’t accept the words from a person without going to God as well. God wants to speak, teach, comfort, strengthen, encourage and show His love to YOU through His words.
Tonight I thought about the fears surrounding Revelation that held me captive for many years, the same fears that grip those who ask these questions. I’ve grown comfortable reading Revelation, but my study is about to get interesting. The easier passages, letters to the seven churches, have concluded. I’m now moving into uncharted and uncomfortable territory and I wonder if those fears will resurface. Thinking about this has me wondering,
Why is everyone so obsessed with the end times?
If we are in the end times, so what?
Jesus told us to look for the signs of His second coming, I wrote about that here, so I’m confident we’re suppose to be waiting, looking, searching, but people’s end times obsession seems like a need for control rather than a call to live.
We are called to live not cower.
We are called to serve and we are called to share Jesus’ story of love and redemption. End times or not, our calling is a steady constant. Are we living a life that draws others near? Is their sin safe in our presence or open to criticism and judgment? Are we expecting people who don’t know God to behave like they do?
An overarching self-absorbed attitude drives the infatuation: Will I suffer?
Americans sit in the lap of comfort, embarrassed to take a bible into a coffee shop or stand against the culture because they want to be at peace with the culture rather than God. Meanwhile, people are suffering today for the name of Jesus. People are being shunned from villages, deprived water, rights to participate in local economies, thrown in prison, tortured and killed all around the globe; persecution has taken place for thousands of years. (John Piper has a dynamite devotional on suffering here.)
Jesus made it clear, choosing to live for Him would lead to suffering in the here and now.
“Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you.” John 15:20
“ Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you.” I Peter 4:12
If it’s the proverbial end times or not, we need to be prepared to suffer for the Lord while we serve. The obsession with our place in history ends with a question: You will suffer if you choose Christ, so what will you choose?