Paying Heed to History
Will we enjoy the right to practice our faith freely? No.
Will those who profess Christ follow Him faithfully? No.
Someone told us that the world was getting to be a better place. After all, we have better technology, better education, better social awareness and social consciousness. Odd how that makes no difference, easily proven by the headlines in our newspapers and the breaking news on our television screens, computers and tablets.
Jesus told us this was going to happen. "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. 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" (Matthew 24:6-8).
We insist that we should have the same freedom to speak openly about Christ as others have to speak openly about what they believe. After all, we are guaranteed freedom of religion and freedom of speech, aren't we?
Jesus warned that whatever was promised on paper would not be true in practice. "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me" (Matthew 24:9).
And we are surprised when those who profess Christ walk away from Him. We wonder at a weak, anemic church. We hang our heads at the numbers of those who claim to speak in the name of the Lord but whose "gospel" bears no resemblance to His. We shouldn't, because the Lord warned us about that too, "At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold" (Matthew 24:10-12, emphasis mine).
On the positive side, perseverance will pay off: "...but he who stands firm will be saved" (Matthew 24:13).
And better yet, God's Word will find its way to every part of globe and His redemptive mission will be proclaimed to the ends of the world. "And the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations…" (Matthew 24:14).
A little later in Matthew 24, the Lord also tells us that life will be going on as normal when He returns (24:36-41). He then warns His listeners that they need to be always prepared for that return. It can never be "business as usual" for the believer because today, tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, could be the day.
"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.…you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him" (Matthew 24:42, 44).
Then follows the parable of a servant who thought that his Master wasn't going to arrive for a while and not only neglected his duties, but abused those duties. The Master appeared and the meeting didn't not end pleasantly for the servant (24:45-51).
We live in these times. And just as Jesus prophesied, we follow the same pattern as is described for us in Matthew. It is time to take stock of our lives to be sure that our love hasn't grown cold and that our "business as usual" is HIS business. It's time to make sure that we are ready to welcome His return.