Over 2.5 million people in the US are involved in driving accidents each year. (1.6 million involved use of a cell phone). With the population of the US being around 327 million, and with birth rates at a 30-year low, that means our nation could become extinct within 2 lifetimes! Beware, pedestrians and bikers!
This isn’t really about driving, accidents, or population statistics, but really about alarmism. The population at large is largely “losing their cool” over exaggerations and misinformation. Following recent news reports, many are led to believe (on Martin Luther King Jr. Day), that our nation has never been more “racist”. Social media outrages over a commercial, and a catholic boy wearing a MAGA hat in front of a Native American beating his drum at the capital. One presidential candidate for 2020 tells us that “The world is gonna end in a dozen years due to global warming”! The government shutdown has everyone on edge. And this is just in US news… many are held captive to 24/7 news headlines, seeking “outrage” to promote their causes.
While it is true that we have much to be concerned about and in prayer for, we who love God would be well-served to heed Paul’s advice to Timothy near the end of his life. Paul is sensing the end of his own life in 2 Timothy 4, and through he looks ahead to the glorious reality in store for himself soon (vv6-8), he does not share this future as an escape from duty, but rather as a gift & reward for faithfulness! The future reality is shared in conjunction with the present, immediate need, and his advice to Timothy in that moment is precious:
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage— with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.” (1 Timothy 4:1-5)
Even while confronted with his own imminent mortality, Paul considers the future leadership of the church and ministry in the long haul. He seeks to prepare his young friend and the churches for even darker times. The Church is to have a long-term game plan to prepare, and not simply react. In one sense, time IS short, and we need to have a sense of urgency and prioritization:
“…those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.” (1 Cor 7:31)
At the same time, we are to brace for and weather the storms that will come, as the Church has done through every generation until now. We do the same kind of work that the first century Church did, in preaching the Gospel, and living it out in love. We put people first, after God! We take the time to seek Him in His Word, learning from Him and other followers of God. We share the greatest possible news of God’s provision of Salvation & Grace with others. We “keep our heads in all situations”, not allowing ourselves to get distracted from the temporary storms that blow around us, keeping in mind the eternal.
This is your time to shine, Church! We have the best reasons for joy, and holding our heads high! “We are more sinful than you know, but we are more loved than you imagine”, as Pastor John Piper has put it. Short of the Lord’s Return, I believe that 100% of all people will die. That is certain. Within that truth, We must also boldly declare the glorious realty of eternal life, that we have a Perfect Judge who will make all things Right: Perfect Justice by Jesus, and ALSO Perfect Mercy IN Him!
Shine the Light, and help divert those distracted back to the straight and narrow road! “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)