But first we need to do a little serious thinking. Not difficult if you’ve been watching the news or weather recently.
War. Terror. Extremism. Conspiracy. Climate change.
And everywhere victims, huddled and weeping.
People are busy getting on with stuff, shopping, TV, school concerts, sport, stuffing the turkey, more shopping, wrapping presents, business as usual.
Trying perhaps to ignore the nagging dread that things aren’t right, maybe hoping a little desperately it will stay away from our doors at least for a while longer.
Let me share with you some words from the Prophet Jesus, Son of God. The ‘child in the manger’. That’s Him. He knows firsthand about poverty, injustice, prejudice and being a refugee. He’s been there.
Turns out He also knows a lot about global issues, nations and governments, God, heaven and hell. And He says we shouldn’t be surprised.
He said, ‘When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation…There will be earthquakes…and famines.’ (Mark 13 v 7-8)
He predicted cruel persecution, numerous false, deceptive religions and philosophies, and cosmic events that will feel like the end of the world.
But in fact these shouldn’t be our greatest concern.
The climax of it all is firmly in God’s hands. The world won’t end until He calls time and it won’t end with human beings self-destructing but with the decisive action of the One Who created it.
‘At that time men will see the Son of Man (Jesus) coming in clouds with great power and glory. He will send his angels and gather his elect (his church) from… the ends of the earth…’ said the Lord. (Mark 13 v 26-27)
Then comes the real cataclysm, God’s judgement of all people, living or dead!
And as Jesus said elsewhere, ‘I tell you my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you Whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell.’ (Luke 12 v 4-5)
Uncomfortable words perhaps but vital information we need to hear!
Our Maker knows human nature. Look how Jesus pictures the way it was before the (almost) total extinction event in Noah’s day:
‘In the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying… up to the day Noah entered the ark…until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.’!
There they were, business as usual, arranging family events, announcing the sports results, meeting friends for a drink, stuffing the turkey, carelessly ignoring the warnings of God’s holy anger over sin.
Aren’t we just like them? We even have Noah’s Ark playsets in toyshops! Yeah, let’s trivialise the concept of judgement, let’s make it a game!
Not a wise move.
For yes God is good and kind but He is also the holy Judge before Whom we must one day stand and we are fools to treat Him with anything less than complete respect and humility.
Ok so say Jesus has got our serious attention, what do we do? If the trouble in the world is supposed to spur us to get ready for His return, how do we go about it?
We should begin by making sure we are ‘on the ark’ as it were. Jesus preached good news of God’s saving grace and mercy, urging people to ‘repent’, that is, turn from wrongdoing, trust and take refuge in the Saviour provided. Then we live with courage, faith and joyful hope, practising His compassion to the victims around us, as we anticipate His return and our being gathered to Him Who will ‘make all things new’.
Then we can rest securely. Then we can enjoy this and every season.
For despite the present trials, Christ our Prince of Peace gives us the greatest cause to celebrate!