Have you heard? Today is the end of the world! It’s the day of the super blood moon eclipse. Some popular Christian “leaders” have been saying that this is it, the end of the world. I posted this on Facebook today:
“I’d like to wish all my friends who believe this super moon eclipse is the sign of the end a happy end of the world. You can tell me all about it tomorrow at work.”
I’m sure for most of you reading this the day has already come and gone with no significant events other than a pretty cool lunar display and the pope visiting Philadelphia. (Somehow I don’t think that’s what Christians meant when they said this will be the day of his return.”) Of course many of the responses to my Facebook post were hilarious, saying things like, “Wear clean underwear!” and “The survivors can feast on my left over canned goods from ‘Y2K.’” But a few of them posted by some folks I love and respect caused me to see just how much my views on Christ’s return have shifted over the years. They wrote things like, “And if it is? We are ready!” and “I say bring it!” I totally get where they’re coming from. A decade or so ago I probably would’ve either said something similar or replied with a hardy, “Amen!” But now my first thought was, “Are we really ready? Do we really want to ‘bring it on’?” Allow me to explain why. And it’s not for the reasons most are probably thinking.
When most of us respond that we’re ready for Christ’s return we’re thinking about our own spiritual condition. More specifically, we see ourselves as ready for Jesus to come back because we believe in Him. So when I ponder whether we’re ready most immediately assume I think most Christians don’t really believe in Jesus or are living in immorality. But those aren’t the reasons I don’t believe we’re ready.
Dr.Stephen Crosby often points out that the individualistic western mentality of which most of us are so accustomed was completely foreign to the first century Middle Eastern world in which Jesus lived. They lived in a dyadic culture in which one received his/her identity through the group. As Crosby put it, “Our sense of being comes from ‘I think therefore I am.’ Theirs was: ‘I am, because the group (the other) says so.’” This is one of the reasons the letters written by the early apostles often end up being so terribly misinterpreted. They’d make statements that we interpret and apply to ourselves individually while they were thinking of the group. For example, look at 1 Peter 2:9. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Today in the West we interpret that as, “I’m a chosen person. I’m a royal priest. I’m a citizen of a holy nation.” Although there is truth to that, the writer’s intent based on their culture and world view was a plural “you.” You, the group, are chosen. You, the group, form a holy priesthood. You are a holy race of people (like the Jews in the Old Testament). So when Jesus and the writers of the New Testament spoke about being ready for His return they weren’t talking about us individually. “Go get Jesus in your heart and live a good life!” They were talking about US as a group, His church, His body, being ready.
Revelation speaks of the bride having made herself ready and being beautifully dressed. Who is the bride of Christ? Just you? Just me? Just a bunch of individuals doing their own thing? Of course not! It’s His entire church, all who follow Christ. Do you still think we’re ready? Are you still set to “Bring it on!”? Do you think the church is done making herself ready for His return?
Just the fact that many good hearted believers tremble in fear at the very thought of Christ’s return reveals we’re not ready. Darin Hufford, author of The Misunderstood God, asked how would you feel as a groom showing up to marry your bride only to find her cowering in the corner terrified of you? That’s a bride who is not ready. She doesn’t even know the heart of her lover. Do we think Jesus is going to show up for a bride that feels that way about Him? He’s coming for a bride who is going to run into the arms of her lover. She’ll be like most brides are on their wedding day: bursting at the seams with joy, excitement, and stomachs full of butterflies.
The church has a long way yet to go. We are not yet ready my brothers and sisters. We’re getting there, but we aren’t there yet. And this is not a message of condemnation. I’m saying it’s time we drop the “I’ll fly away oh glory” nonsense and start thinking like King David preparing to build the temple – long term! This isn’t a “are you going to heaven or hell?” issue. It’s a “are you living for the Kingdom?” issue. That’s just it. For too long has this, “I-got-Jesus-in-my-heart-unlike-those-unbelieving-jerks-who-are-ruining-my-comfort-zone-get-me-out-of-here-now!” attitude has prevailed in the church. It’s time to knock it off and grow up! Many Christians look like workers sitting around a construction site doing nothing hoping the whistle will blow to go home before they have to pick up a hammer. King David knew the construction of the temple wasn’t going to happen under his watch. So he spent much of his time and energy making preparations so that his son Solomon would have everything he needed to get the job done.
It’s time to stop selfishly looking at ourselves and start thinking of the generations to come. What tools and preparations are we leaving for them? Are we doing our part to beautify the bride? Do we love one another? I don’t just mean being nice on Sundays. Are we making sure none of our brothers or sisters are in need? Do we love the outcasts, the foreigners, and the rejected? Are we feeding the poor and speaking up for the oppressed? Are we taking the lead on these things or constantly lagging behind until the world pressures us to do something? (As has been the norm for the last several decades.) In other words, are we preparing the foundation upon which others will build? I believe THAT is the question that pertains to our generation. It’s not “Were you ready to fly away?” but “Did you leave the next generation the foundation and tools of Christ on which they can build?” Stop thinking like a rapture freak and think like Paul and the other apostles. Labor for those who are yet to come.
Several years ago my wife, Lilly, had a vision. She and I were standing on a dock fishing but we were only catching a few fish. Then she noticed there was a shark in the water that was eating most of the fish. She then saw me grab a knife and dive in and kill the shark. I climbed back on the dock and we returned to fishing. We began to pull in bucket loads of fish. Then her vision changed and we were no longer on the dock. She saw our daughter standing there fishing and she was catching tons of fish; far more than we did. Father showed us that in her vision the shark was religion. Religion is what has been making the body of Christ so unfruitful. Once religion was slain we began to see amazing productivity and results. But this didn’t end with us. What we accomplished was passed on to the next generation who saw even greater results. This my friends is where I believe we stand as the people of God. We need to stop goofing off and indulging escapist mentalities and start thinking long term and labor for the Kingdom so the next generation has some foot steps to follow; something on which to build. We have to be the generation that kills that nasty shark of religion that has been doing nothing but stealing from us and rendering us virtually unproductive for centuries. It’s time to take out the knife, and without mercy, slay that foul thing. Let’s clear the waters so the generations to come will see the results in the Kingdom of which we dreamed.