I am not the type to say that the end of the world is coming. Yet I can’t help to think of a story I heard that reminds me of where we are today as a nation, as a world…and mostly as the church.
A priest and pastor and rabbi are standing by the side of the road holding up a sign that reads, “The End is Near! Turn yourself around now before it’s too late!” They planned to hold up the sign to each passing car.”Leave us alone you religious nuts!” yelled the first driver as he sped by. From around the curve they heard screeching tires and a big splash.”Do you think,” said one clergy to the other, “we should just put up a sign that says ‘Bridge Out’ instead?”
I don’t know how close we are to the end, but I really believe that there are a lot of bridges out today. Whether we put our trust in the economy, the government, our jobs, our portfolios, our education, our families or even those things that have always worked for us in the past…we are headed on a road that is going to end up coming to a dead end. My big concern is for those of us in the church that are not much different from those who don’t claim to follow Christ. As Francis Chan recently said in a quote I heard, “those of us with the Holy Spirit, ought to think and behave differently than those without the Holy Spirit.” Do we? Really?
When I hear Christians talking about the upcoming presidential election as the answer to our issues, (if only we get the right man or woman in office then things will turn around)…I am more concerned than where we are today. Politics are not going to save us, they’ve never changed a human heart, it’s just ups and downs much like the history of the kings of Israel.
I’m not fearful though. I’m not discouraged. I’m not preaching gloom and doom. But I do feel like we need to get our house in order spiritually and practically. If we are not doing what we know to do, we’ve got to change that. If we are walking in ways that are selfish, we must get out of ourselves. If we are not in true community, then we need to ask the Holy Spirit to change our independent hearts. You see, it’s not really about those who don’t know Jesus…but about those of us who do. Like Scripture says, we are to pray for blessings in our cities, for the people around us and for the nation that we live in, for their peace (Jer 29:7). But we are to be the peacemakers that are living out the truth of the gospel in such a way that they will “see our good works and glorify God.” We aren’t to curse and be angry and join in the rage against the machine…but blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.
The other day I received a very sobering email from another pastor. At first I wasn’t inclined to read it because it came as a mass distribution list email. I don’t like those and I really don’t like it when I’m not blind-copied, which I wasn’t. But something (namely the Holy Spirit) pressed me to read and ponder. I want to just quote a small section of this email, which I read as a prophecy to the church today, the body of Christ here and now:
One of the greatest areas where we American Christians fail is our firm belief that America is such a blessed nation that we will never suffer judgment at the hand of God. Throughout our history, we have known blessing upon blessing– even through our country was severely tested in a great civil war. Today we think that we are being carried forward on the strength of all those past victories. What slavery, greed, racism, Nazism, and communism failed to do, we are accomplishing all by ourselves by ignoring the warnings contained in God’s Word. We desperately need to listen to what God is saying and respond to Him, personally and not politically. (Edmund C. de la Cour, Jr., First Baptist Church of Pocasset, MA)
It’s not gloom and doom…it’s warning lights, opportunities for mercy, chances to be the very light in the darkness that Jesus says we are. But we must get right…get our houses in order. We must do things like simplify, stop living for self, stop complaining and becoming depressed when things don’t go our way, stop comparing and building our own personal kingdom come.
The end my not be near, but the bridge is out…let’s slow down and find out His will for our lives, our church, and then the nation will follow.