On this episode we talk about New York City, Christmas cards, what people will say at our funerals, and the Great Commission.
This is an interesting time in America. We’ve got a presidential election that appears to be flying off the rails at unprecedented speeds. We’ve got racial tension, moral confusion, and ethical chaos. It’s enough to make Christians wonder what this world is coming to.
The answer is that the world isn’t coming to anything new. It is and always has been lost, confused, chaotic, and disturbed. We have been living under the delusion in the U.S. that the world basically loves God, that the world basically believes the Bible. We have felt far removed from all of the terror and tragedy and loss that has been going on in the world (and down the street) for all these years.
But, here we are. America suddenly feels foreign. Christianity is being pushed to the fringes of society. Morality doesn’t seem important anymore. Everyone is truly doing whatever seems right in their own eyes, and saying that something isn’t right is committing the ultimate of all evils: judging. From transgender locker rooms in Washington to masturbation booths in New York City to sex trafficking in our own backyard to aborted baby parts to the highest bidder, Jesus seems less and less a part of the American equation. Christians are either angry or sheepish or terrified or all of the above.
The thing is that God has never, not for one single second, lost control of this place. He has never been caught off guard. He has never been confused or worried. And, somehow we Christians, His own children, we who should know His goodness, mercy, loving-kindness, gentleness, might, power, sovereignty more than anyone else, we fret about where this world is headed. We wring our hands and pace the floor, while almighty God sits firmly on His throne, Jesus ruling perfectly at His right hand. This world is held tight in the hands of the Savior.
So, the reality is that everything is really going to be okay.
No matter who is elected president. No matter how bad things get in this broken, fallen world. No matter how many heartaches we face or how many betrayals we endure. In the end of all things, we will see with our own eyes just how good He has been through it all. He hasn’t missed anything. He isn’t overwhelmed. One day He will set every little thing right again.
We are here to glorify His name. To make Him famous. To take the bad news of sin and the good news of a Savior to the very ends of this Earth. The mission doesn’t end even if America goes down in flames. We can shout His name from rooftops or whisper it in secret rooms, but let our concern be for His glory and not our comfort. He blesses in mansions on free American hilltops, and He blesses in slums in the most oppressed places on the planet. Our trust in God cannot be intertwined with our trust in this country. Man-made endeavors always disappoint. But, God never breaks His promises. He is freedom. Let His freedom ring.
The Great I Am still is. Let’s live like we really believe it.
When I was a junior in college, I was one of just a few students who managed to get a spot in the on-campus apartments. At that time, my small Baptist university offered just eight apartments, and I was so thrilled to get out of the dorms while still being right in the middle of all the fun and action on campus.
A railroad track happened to run right behind the apartment building, and I’ll never forget the first night I spent in my freshly-decorated, oh-so-cool apartment. At about three in the morning I was awakened by the most terrifying sound I had ever heard. I flew out of my bed into a defensive position on the floor, waiting for what I was sure was the return of Jesus. It only took my fuzzy brain a few seconds to wake up enough to realize that it was just the train passing about 30 feet behind my bedroom. After a few weeks, I didn’t even hear that train any more, but that first night I thought I was about to have a meeting with Jesus!
In my younger years I was afraid of Jesus. I don’t mean that I was worried that He would strike me down with a bolt of lightning. But, I was worried about the day that He would come back. I would fret about it, try not to think about it. I didn’t want life as I knew it to end. I didn’t want to face a new, unknown existence. At that time, I thought of Jesus’ return the same way I thought of dying. It just seemed scary and too real and too different. I was happy with the status quo. I wanted the chance to live my life the way everyone before me had. I wanted the full human experience, and I didn’t want Jesus to cut it short by coming back before I was ready.
I suppose that’s a sign that I had a wonderful childhood.
And, if I’m being honest, my life hasn’t gotten worse. No, it’s gotten better. I don’t know how or why, but God brought me a wonderful, godly man. And then he gave me three children that I adore. And, there’s almost nothing I would rather see in my lifetime than my kids growing up. But, there is one thing that I want to see more than that.
I want to see Jesus come back.
In Hebrews, faith is defined as having confidence in what we hope for and assurance of what we don’t see. I’m not sure why He did, but God gifted me with faith. I believe with all of my heart and soul that He is real. That He is working. That Jesus is at His right hand sitting on a throne, ruling the universe. I believe all of these things. And yet, in a world filled with horror and pain and unthinkable tragedy at every turn, I often pray that He will help me in my unbelief.
So, as I’ve gotten older I have begun to long for Jesus’ return. I’m anxious to see Him. To touch Him. To have the truth of His might and power and love and mercy evidenced for all of the world to see. I’m hungry for the day when He will make things right again. When He will dry every tear. I wonder if He will turn to me on that day, little child undone by His presence, and say with a smile, I told you I was coming.
I am so ready.
And yet, so many aren’t. So many have never heard His name. So many living today are dead in sin. So, as much as I yearn for the skies to break open, I pray that He waits. That He gives us more time to complete the mission He gave to us. That He uses us and His Holy Spirit to bring about a revival the likes of which this world has never known. So, in my heart I sing these two in a weird harmony: Even so, come and Here am I, send me.
I pray that in these dark times we will long for His presence in our every day lives as much as we long for His physical return. He is real. He is coming. And, His judgment will be a sight to behold. We cannot selfishly call for His return without earnestly calling out to a lost and dying world. Jesus saves. May He do the work of the gospel in us and through us.