5–11 February 2017.
It’s hard to walk into a Christian bookstore these days and not find several books on the shelves about the so-called “end times”. The authors advertise how they are the only one who can really read the signs and predict the coming end of the world. They go on book tours, hold lectures, and convince people to buy their materials. But Jesus warns us directly not to get involved in any of that.
This fascination with the end is nothing new. In was popular in Jesus’s day, and even in the centuries before Jesus. We remember in 1 Corinthians 1:22 how Paul even makes fun of the Jews who are always looking for “signs”. But guessing about the end of the world is not just silly, it leads to serious problems.
First, people end up focused on the signs of the coming kingdom instead of on the kingdom itself. Instead of trying to guess the future timing of God’s plan, we should be concentrating on living the life of the kingdom now. After all, Jesus tells us that the kingdom is already here, here among us, breaking into this world now. In those places where we care for one another, love each other, and let Christ be Lord of our lives, that’s where we see the kingdom. Jesus wants us to focus on doing the work of the kingdom now, not guessing about when God will fulfill the kingdom in the future. That’s God’s business alone, and no one can know that.
Second, since the “end times” are often linked with God’s judgement, this topic tempts people to guess about their neighbour’s “salvation”. But again, that is God’s business alone, not ours. It is impossible for us to judge someone else’s relationship with God or to know how their personal faith story will end. In vv. 34–35, Jesus reminds us: Even in our most intimate relationships with people we work side-by-side with everyday or even share a bed with every night, we still can’t tell how things with them will go.
When it comes to God’s kingdom, the “Where?”, “When?” and “Who?” questions are all God’s business. So let’s leave that with God. As disciples, our business is simply to work for the kingdom today, by sharing Christ’s love with everyone around us.
Pastor Stephen Lakkis