Social media is rife with eschatalogical speculation. Stong opinions surface in discussions of end-times events. Clashing viewpoints devolve into debates and arguments resulting in bruised emotions and broken relationships.
While it is true that we are called to “keep watch”1 for the return of the Master, I find myself less interested in the making of charts and graphs, cross-referencing verse A with verse B in order to predict or detect the timing of an event that even Jesus himself said he does not know, and more interested in “watching” in the sense of being ready, keeping oil in my lamp and my wick trimmed.2
The fallacy, for me, of analyzing, scoping, predicting, etc. is that the urgency communicated by adherants of these practices contains an “everybody get ready NOW” message, and the getting ready is predicated on the assumed accuracy of their analysis. What I’m saying is, we don’t need the urgency of the analysis to motivate us to get ready. Be ready anyway! Be ready regardless!
That seems to be Jesus’ message as well – be ready, not because you know, but precisely because you don’t know.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God — having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
– 2 Timothy 3:1-5, NIV-1978
This discouraging prophetic exhortation from the apostle Paul does have a very familiar feel to it. We may well be neck-deep in such times, as the attitudes and practices described are on display in every direction we look. I see this outside the church, and even to a degree within it, as there are countless religionists who hold a form of godliness but deny the power thereof.3
I see little hope (if any) that the situation will improve. Indeed, Paul indicates that quite the opposite is the case.
In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.
– 2 Timothy 3:12-13, NIV-1978
How does the Christ-follower respond to such a reality? Do we become aggressive against it? Defensive? Frightened? Should we flee? Some seem to see tolerance and compromise as a peace-keeping measure to be called for. Others flat-out surrender to the influence and persuasion of the deceivers.
Paul’s proposed response is not really a response at all, but rather a continuation of what one has learned and become convinced of. The shifting landscape does not call for a new or altered response. It calls for a doubling down on what we already know to be true.
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
– 2 Timothy 3:14-15, NIV-1978
I have a dear friend in my local church family who speaks of entering dark times and the way to get through them.4 The idea is, you knew the direction you were headed when you were in the light and could see, so it makes no sense to change directions in the dark when you cannot see. Just trust what you knew while in the light and keep walking that same direction till you escape the dark. When you come out the other side you’ll be exactly where you’re supposed to be.
As we become immersed in ever-darkening times, we continue in what we have learned and become convinced of, believing and obeying God’s Word, knowing it is able to make us “wise unto salvation.” Scripture prepares us for any and every eventuality, and equips us for every good work.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
– 2 Timothy 3:16-17, NIV-1978
Stay the course, brothers and sisters. I am persuaded increasingly dark times are coming.
Blessings upon you, my friends.
Victoriously in Christ!
Twitter – @DamonJGray
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1. Mark 13:35-37
2. Matthew 25:1-13
3. 2 Timothy 3:5
4. Miller, T. (2004). In the Light of the Dark. Lake Mary, FL:Creation House
Paul lived in times when emperors thought nothing of cutting someone’s head off, and he lived and preached in a Roman prison, but nowhere does his writing reflect the hurried sense of urgency of trying to avoid the end times. Yes, he did continually urge evangelism, but what I see in what I know of his writing is what you point out: continue in what you learned, and hold fast to it. Don’t change anything just because of the circumstances around you; keep a steady course.
I try to remember that when I write blog posts, etc.
Yes, Peggy! Ideally, we should never need to change course. Regardless of what is going on around us, our course is set, the tiller is locked in and we are sailing on the same direction despite what everyone and everything else is doing. “Continue … ” What a great line from Paul.
I have a motto I wrote and taped near my computer desk which encourages me in my writing, and which goes along with Paul’s outlook: Keep Calm, Trust God, Keep Writing. Don’t Give Up, Don’t Give In.
I avoid FB and other social media because it would feed anxiety, and fear. I try hard to do the writing and things which I believe God wants me to do, rather than “look to the left or the right”.