END TIMES STUFF
Image source: Tim Dennell on flickr.com
In the last week there have been some terrible headlines.BUY THIS IS THAT
27 people losing their lives as they tried to cross the channel to the UK shores – and an estimated 1600 who have died or gone missing on such crossings in the Mediterranean.
A new variant of the coronavirus that appears to be more transmissible and more dangerous than current versions.
And today’s headlines: another shooting in a school in the US, with three dead and eight injured.
These are all against a bigger backdrop of global warming, unsustainable living and increasing threat to those who are already very poor across the world. And these global tragedies somehow make our own personal tragedies even more overwhelming.
The first Christians lived in an age where there was news of violence, war and famine, too. Although they didn’t have the communication methods we do, or the facts about economics, politics, science or geography, their own view of the world was that it was highly pressurised and coming to a climax. This was especially true for Christians because they were themselves were being persecuted. It meant that they saw their faith and the work of Jesus in the world as urgent and important – so much so that the language they used was as if Jesus were coming back in their lifetimes.
When we look back at these writings, they can appear naïve – centuries have now passed, and the world is a very different place. But I wonder if their attitude was not so much about fear-mongering or a simplistically negative view of life, but instead had a sharpness of focus that meant living was vivid and extra-real.
Peter writes in 2 Peter 3: “What kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”
My natural inclination is fear, or wanting to ignore the facts, focussing only on myself, becoming impotently angry. Peter has a different approach to the violent rebellion and destruction of goodness we see around us. It is to anticipate and hasten the coming of Jesus and his Kingdom. Anticipating is an attitude that we can have – it is how we see things - and if we anticipate Jesus and his Kingdom then we will be looking for signs of this and learning to see him where we did not before. Hastening is interesting because it means we have some part to play in in the big picture of the events in the world that we see around us. We are not bystanders but participants and influencers.
So, I question myself with the news I read.
What can I do about the refugee crisis? Either to address these awful symptoms or to play a part in the root causes. How can I keep people safe from Covid? I have been praying for a friend’s father who has been desperately ill in hospital this week with the virus.
What does holiness look like, or living a godly life, in the face of global poverty and climate change, or where there is gun and knife crime in cities and towns near me?
Even asking these questions is an anticipating and hastening because Jesus will give me some answers if I let him speak to me. These will probably be to do with how I pray, choices I make about my lifestyle and also choices that are about calling, behaviour, activity and even the direction of my life.
The Day of the Lord is near – which is every reason to live in hope and also with an urgency and relevance about how our faith will motivate and drive us to partnering with God in redemption, deliverance and the coming of shalom.
Next time you read a disturbing news item – ask a question from it – how can I live a godly life and hasten your coming Kingdom in the light of what I have just read?
Martin J Young