Many end times teachers run a commentary on the acceleration of natural catastrophes, wars and the decline of society. From this, we learn that we should not hold dearly to this life as it is temporary. We find our comfort in knowing that God foretold that such things will happen, and he will judge this evil world but rescue his church to be with him forever in paradise.
Others denounce this as doom and gloom and in reaction, blindly focus on the positive. Many avoid teaching on end times because it’s so negative and inapplicable to our daily lives. However, an incredible evangelistic opportunity is lost. People are fascinated with the future and want to know what’s going to happen. We have an amazing opportunity through recently fulfilled prophecy to present the Bible as the true and living book that’s more relevant to us than our forefathers. Naturally following this, we can show that God is in control and here’s what to expect.
Many condemn the persecution of Christians throughout the world. But I am deeply disturbed by those who focus on exposing Islam as the root of all evil as this totally cripples our mandate to care for the stranger among us. Others villainize the sexual liberalists. But what about the super-rich, thieving exploiters who run corporations; or corrupt governments. Then there’s the atheists who constantly slander all that is good, to place themselves at the top of the evolutionary tree – well beyond those backward religious nuts who bear the blood of every war. These totally distance themselves from the communist atrocities committed in the name of no religion. The media soaks in every detail of hate and abuse but completely refuses to acknowledge the persecution of Christians.
The fact is the whole world is against Christians. It’s wrong to expect a broken world to care about Christians. We are to love all the people of the world unconditionally – as we are restored to the image of God.
John 16:33 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
John 15:18 If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
We need not be picky who we call our enemies, but rather pray for everyone.
Matthew 5:44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
But what does it mean to love?
1 Corinthians 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
So, love patiently endures all kinds of trouble. It does not say I’m better than these others. It does not expose the evils of others, or remember historical atrocities, or even current ones. Love sends missionary wives to the tribe that just killed their husbands. Love sends escaped slaves back to their abusive masters with the gospel. Love flagrantly disregards one’s own safety for the sake of others. Love sees past the actions of the abuser to the broken soul within. Love stands up for injustices to one’s enemies, when they are hurt or slandered, love speaks the truth – even to our disadvantage. Love always protects, always trusts that those who have abused will eventually cease to do so. Love always hopes and sticks it out no matter what.
Luke 9:23 Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. 25What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? 26Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.
Love does not concern itself for one’s wellbeing. Jesus is quite clear about those who would rather protect their family than to reach out to others with the gospel.
Matthew 10:37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
When Jesus sits in judgement of us, will we be like the sheep of Matthew 25:31-46, or the goats? Will he say to us “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels”?
Being a Christian comes at a great cost. In the western world, we may not be persecuted of our lives, but certainly our livelihoods – as bakers and florists refuse to partake in anti-godly weddings; or sportsmen are baited to be slanderously quoted out of context to lose their jobs. I hear from pastors in persecuted countries, asking us not to pray for the persecution to stop, but rather that God would give us strength to endure all things to be able to preach the gospel, even to the executioners. When we become Christians, we must give up our human rights in exchange for the gift of eternal life.
“The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church”– Tertullian https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apologeticus
Remember the harvest of the wheat and the tares
The world is ripening toward the harvest. Evil is getting eviler and nature seems to be climaxing toward the apocalypse. But these are like the weeds that the enemy sowed in the wheat field. To focus on these is totally missing the point. The field is not for weeds, but for the bountiful ripe grain. Through Heavenly eyes, the amount of evil is irrelevant – only the bounty of the harvest is important.
As we see the evil ripening, we must look to see the church ripening to full maturity. I believe God is restoring the supernatural to the church.
John 14:12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
While this is fulfilled by the church having a greater reach than Jesus ever did, I don’t see why this can’t be fulfilled in each believer.
Don’t fit the Bible to your experience.
Let the Bible become your experience.
We hear so many stories of amazing miracles happening today – people healed and raised from the dead, demons cast out and miraculous provision. I believe this will grow to be the reality for many believers before Christ’s return. The church will be the ripe bountiful fruit that Jesus is ripening unto the harvest.
So, when we see the bad getting badder, look for, and expect the overwhelming goodness of God to be expressed by his supernaturally empowered church.
Luke 10:19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
Mark 16:15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.”