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It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine…

That’s a line from the chorus of a hit song by the band R.E.M. And I think, surprisingly, there’s a great deal of truth in it.

I was pulled aside after a Sunday morning service not long ago by an attender who wanted to know when I was going to be warning the congregation about the impending crash of the world economy that Illuminati would be orchestrating in order to decrease the human population by up to 90%. After several minutes of hearing of the danger of vaccines, conspiracies with communist nations, and the malicious intent of the heads of states, I finally held up a hand and said, “Even if this were all true, I’d be completely comfortable preaching exactly what I just preached.”

I believe, at the time, I was in a series called Roots based on the book of Colossians. We were covering such subjects as how to spot real love, how to grow deeper in Christ, and how to live a spiritually fruitful life.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been confronted about my lack of urgency about end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it issues. There are also these pesky blood moons to worry about. And someone is always trying to kill us with vaccines, or aspartame, or a zombie virus, or purple dinasours on TV, the numerical value of whose names add up to 666 and therefore must be the antichrist in disguise… I’ve heard it all…

I’m a skeptical believer. I’ve come to have a sturdy faith in Jesus because I believe the central truths of Christianity stand up under tests of logic, reason, science, history, archaeology, and textual criticism. I embrace the Bible as inerrant, as crazy as that may sound to some.

But I’m still skeptical. I don’t mind wrestling with big questions and have found it to embolden my faith over time. I’m especially skeptical of teachings and arguments that serve as a distraction from the main thing – the gospel.

Let’s say, hypothetically, that the blood moons point to the end of the world as we know it. The Illuminati is planning to trim the human race back a bit and assume complete control over our lives economically and militarily. What I’d want to preach about this coming Sunday is… the good news that Jesus Christ died to save sinners and rose again.

And if that wild theory is hogwash and poppycock (the direction I’m inclined to lean in), then what I’d want to preach this coming Sunday is… the good news that Jesus Christ died to save sinners and rose again.

The Apostle Paul once warned a young Pastor named Timothy to rebuke some leaders in the ancient church of Ephesus for getting people off track in endless debates about myths, legends, and Old Testament genealogies. As Paul put it, “these things only lead to meaningless speculations, which don’t help people live a life of faith in God.” (1 Timothy 1:4 NLT)

And then Paul continued by saying, “The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.” (v. 5)

I love that statement. Paul is essentially charging Timothy to avoid motivating people to seek God on the basis of fear, rational or otherwise, and instead to seek him on the basis of love and a desire for purity and real faith.

I don’t want people to be afraid of the end of the world. After all, what do we Christians have to worry about in the eternal scheme of things? Though the world fall apart around us and our bodies be destroyed, we live on! We win! We enjoy victory! I’m not attempting to minimize the seriousness of persecution, which is obviously a real and present danger in our world. I’m simply saying that there are some essentials to be preached weekly regardless of the direction the world around us is headed.

If the world were ending tomorrow, I’d want to preach this Sunday the good news that Jesus Christ died to save sinners and rose again, and that we can live a life of faith in him that matters for eternity. And if the world hangs around a few more millennia, I’d want to preach the same exact message. It’s (possibly, at any moment) the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

You can build a congregation in size and collect large offerings by creating anxiety, fear, and anger toward the outside world, but I don’t think you’d be on task. In fact, you might just wind up starting a cult, which never ends well.

Instead, lead people to life in Jesus. Lead people to the cross for redemption. Lead people to discover the life worth living no matter what the world looks like around us. Lead people to follow Jesus, emulate his character, and implement the ways and practices conveyed in Scripture.

Confront sin and apathy.
Point people to redemption in the cross of Christ.
Equip believers to live a life of faith.
Empower servant leaders.
Strengthen families.
Reinforce the biblical faith.
And hail the triumphant return of King Jesus.

In other words, this Sunday…

Preach. The. GOOD. NEWS.

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Jessie Tharpe

commented on Sep 19, 2015

This is one of the best articles I have ever read. I have grave concern for we Christians who spend much of our time chasing a whem and trying to figure out when Christ will return. This is not our concern. Our concern is be ready and point others to the love of Christ. Thank You for the great encouragement.

Eric Monier

commented on Sep 19, 2015

Yes, the Bible says "Be ready." And it also says in Matthew 24:42 - "Watch therefore..." No, we cannot know the day or hour, but we SHOULD KNOW the SEASON. This is biblical (Mat 24:32-33).

Pat Damiani

commented on Sep 19, 2015

Great article!

David Merryman

commented on Sep 19, 2015

This came at a good time. Well done. Blessings.

William Clark

commented on Sep 19, 2015

Amen! Well written and inspired by the Lord we serve. Tank you for sharing.

Eric Monier

commented on Sep 19, 2015

Brandon, you make some good points. Always preach the gospel (every Sunday) - Amen to that. I think, however, that you are being too dismissive of the clear signs that Jesus' return is imminent. You are right that we should not become obsessed with these extrabiblical signs, but we don't want to put our heads in the sand either, do we? From Eric, Pastor in Florida

Eric Monier

commented on Sep 19, 2015

Brandon, another thought just crossed my mind. Why do you think that looking at the signs/evidence that is all around us is fear-mongering? 1 Thessalonians 4:18 (PAUL) tells us that we should be "comforting" one another with these words (re. the Rapture/Return of Christ). This does not bring fear. It brings the exact opposite - comfort!

Lawrence Webb

commented on Sep 19, 2015

Because people know I'm a preacher, I hear this end-of-the-world stuff from the man who mows our yard now that my wife and I are no longer able to cut the grass, I hear it from well-meaning people at the Y, I hear it in casual encounters at church. John Hagee calls Pope Francis the antichrist and his September 2015 visit to the US is a sign of the end. Some say Revelation 1:7 "every eye shall see him coming" could not be fulfilled until satellite TV, so this is a sure sign. These "sure signs" remind me of Richard Kyle's book, "The Last Days Are Here Again," that points to the certainty of people throughout Christian history who have "known for sure" they were in the last days. But as you have wisely said, Let's not worry about date setting. Let's tell the good news that Jesus died and rose again to save us from our sin.

Shalom Transcription

commented on Sep 19, 2015

Good article!

Rev. Lyle Berg

commented on Sep 21, 2015

I was very surprised this summer preaching at a camp as I was introduced as a Pastor who actually preaches from Revelations. I was perplexed as the Bible is 28.6 prophecy with Jesus distinctly and prophetically warning us how it would be in the last days. We are warned that people won't even recognize the end times because Pastor's avoid or are unsure of Biblical prophecy and preach comfortable. I myself do not venture beyond scripture ie. date setting but i do preach the whole council of God as Jesus shared to us in Mth. 24 and more. The world is looking for answers and we as Christians need to show through scriptures where we are and were they need to be. Can you use prophecy in a loving way? For sure Jesus did and people will give their hearts to HIM.

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