Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

The news is constant. The news reports on all that is bad, out-of-control, gruesome, and disheartening. The world is in turmoil and perplexity. They seek answers to vexing problems of our times. Although issues arise in every culture throughout history, somehow ours is always worse. Even Christians get concerned. We join with the world to solve some of these problems, or we speak out, wring our hands, point fingers, and even hate each other because of them.

Jesus said that these times will be like this. But he gives us our marching orders—which we often ignore. He said in Luke 21:25-26 that:
There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

He told them this parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.
"I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man."
Yet we fret about global warming. Christians. Fretting about the weather. This is no different than the early apostles when they were tossed around in the boat, while Jesus slept. Their response to Jesus was that maybe he didn't care.
A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown?"

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
With a word, he controlled the weather. But we seek to control the weather with our technology and know-how. We join with the world to battle an enemy that neither speaks nor knows anything. And we do so with weapons of the world (controlling the lives of people). We neither trust God nor ask God for wisdom. (James 4:1-12) We assume both the problem and the solution, and we fret, fuss, and fight over what? Weather.

But we also worry about wars and rumors of war. We ignore what Jesus said about these things. (Matthew 24:6)
"You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
And also, what about poverty, starvation, and death? He continues (Matthew 24:7-8):
Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.
No doubt, someone will make the complaint that we should be concerned about such things, and not being so would be callous and un-Christian. In fact, this is often quoted, "We shouldn't be so heavenly-minded that we are no longer any earthly good." This is a false saying, because to be earthly-minded is no good to God. (Colossians 3:1-4; Philippians 3:18-21)

But what about loving people? Now that is a command of God. But not the love of the world. It is rather the love of God that we are to demonstrate. It is a love that seeks the good, as God sees it, of another person. And working towards that end, even if it means that the world hates us for it. We may get praise for being kind and compassionate to people. But we may not get praise for doing so with the goal of bringing all people under Christ for life, and being a witness to this world of its evil and need for a Savior—rather than self-improvement or making the world a better place while we continue to sin.

This is a hard message for me to write. But I am concerned about my brothers and sisters in Christ, who are looking at the wind and the waves instead of Christ.

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