Summary: Are we living in the world’s last days? Jesus and the Biblical writers said that is not for us to know, and taught that we are to live our lives fully and freely, hoping in God always. Based on 1 Peter 4:7-19.
Hope for Uncertain Times
Hope is Your Birthright, part 1
Wildwind Community Church
August 27, 2006
Life is hard, isn’t it? You hear that a lot. Life is hard. But next time you hear that statement, I want you to think, “Compared to what?”
Life is hard. It takes up all of your free time – all your evenings and weekends. Isn’t it just exhausting? Like comedian Flip Wilson used to say, “If I had my whole life to live over again, I don’t think I’d have the strength.”
Life is hard. And we live in uncertain times. We’re at war in Iraq. We’re in a nuclear showdown with Iran. We’re in another nuclear showdown with North Korea. Israel is fighting Hezbollah. Heck, Israel is fighting just about everybody! Gas prices are going up and down, but mostly up. If you live in Michigan, which pretty much all of you do, there’s a chance your job is in danger, especially if you work in manufacturing. The housing market is terrible – unless you happen to be trying to buy a house. But if you’re trying to sell one, good luck. Our country is deeply divided over the war in Iraq, with people of good will on both sides of the issue. We live in the shadow of 9/11.
This is a big list of issues. They are the issues of the 21st century. Every century has its issues. I remember hearing sermons like this when I was a kid in the 80’s, only the issues were the incredible menace of the Soviet Union, the nuclear arms race, this new and extremely scary virus called HIV and whether it would end up being spread through casual contact and threaten the entire human race, the devastation of the inner cities caused by trickle-down economics, the Iran-Contra scandal, and all the TV preachers caught making it with hookers or with their secretaries. As Queen sang, we grew up tall and proud in the shadow of the mushroom cloud. I can’t imagine what the list of world-shaking events would have looked like in the 60’s and 70’s. John F. Kennedy – dead; Martin Luther King, Jr. – dead; Bobby Kennedy – dead. Vietnam. Kent State. The world must have seemed like it was coming unglued. During World War II, I’ll bet the world seemed like it was coming unglued, particularly for those on the beach at Normandy, or for Jewish families, dying together in gas chambers. During the Civil War, if you lived in America, I’ll bet the world seemed like it was coming unglued.
My friends, I am not here this morning to tell you that since the world has always seemed like it’s coming unglued, and it still seems like that today, we can take comfort from the past in knowing that’s just the state of things, the way things are – and that the world, in fact, is NOT coming unglued. I’m here to tell you just the opposite. I believe that in every age the world has seemed like it’s coming unglued because it IS coming unglued, and that it has been coming unglued since – well, since forever. Since sin first entered into this world, since Adam and Eve first bit into that forbidden fruit. I have to think that shortly after that time, when two brothers – Cain and Abel – had a fight, and Cain killed his brother Abel – I have to think Adam and Eve in their grief might have cried out to God and to one another, “What have we done? What is this world coming to?” And it’s been that way ever since.
The way of the non-believer is to point to how it has just always been this way and say, “See, this is just how it is. This is the normal way things are. Today isn’t any different. It’s just normal. Deal with it.” The way of the Christian believer is to say, “See – things have always been bad. Sin has racked the human condition from the very beginning, and every personal, familial, local, state, national, and global crisis we’ve ever seen springs from sin that is just part of the human condition.
Unfortunately it is normal. But I don’t have to deal with it, because one day, God is going to deal with it.”
The Christian believes that God has a plan for history, and that God’s plan for history will come down exactly as he determined it would. The Christian looks around at the state of the world, watches world leaders scurrying to this summit and that summit and trying desperately to plug every hole that springs up in the dam, and rejoices that God is sovereign over a world that seems to have spun completely out of control. All is not as it appears. Hope is not lost. The Christian hopes in God. Let’s read from God’s Word about hope this morning.