Matthew, Harvey, Irma. Columbine, Sandy Hook, and now Las Vegas.
Just the one-word description is enough, is it not? There is no need for explanation as to that to which I’m referring, is there?
No, we are aware of the hurricanes that have battered our country in the last two seasons. And the mass shootings continue to happen, and we don’t know why. Quite frankly, we continue to be alarmed by the number of shootings in Savannah. And many of us simply do not understand the reason.
In a recent trip to a Christian bookstore, I saw a shelf devoted to "end of the world" predictions. "We are in the last days," declared the back cover of one book. The author’s name was quite familiar to me as he has been publishing for a couple of decades now. "The end is near." "We don’t have much longer." And on it goes.
I remember reading the same warnings in the 1970s and ‘80s. "We have to get ready." "There’s not much time." I know of many churches that devoted weeks to "prophecy seminars," all the time seeking to prepare their members for the last days on earth, and the return of Jesus.
And still … we wait.
You need to understand this about me: I believe that when the Bible says that Jesus is coming again, it is uttering absolute truth. This will not be a "spiritual return," but a literal one. The Lord will return, and he will bring history as we know it to an end. He will usher in his kingdom, and those who have trusted in him will live with him for all eternity. It promises to be the most glorious of times.
But I am reminded of two things that are clear in the scripture. First, no one knows when that will be. Any and all attempts at predictions are mistaken. We need to ignore those voices. Quite frankly, though it may seem harsh, the title "false prophet" applies to those who make such prophecies.
But here is my second observation: We are always to be ready, for this return could come at any time. Every generation of Christian believers has understood that the end could come in a flash. God has intended it that way. We are to be in a constant state of readiness. Jesus could come back tomorrow. Or he could delay for many decades and even centuries.
The task of the church is two-fold. Be ready. Help others to be ready. It really is that simple.