My whole life I have heard, and read, that we might be living in the last days, with suggestions that Jesus’ return is immanent. I also know that Jesus said that no man knows the day or the hour. Only the Father knows when everything will come to pass, and the prophesies of Scripture will be fulfilled. Jesus told His disciples that we should be able to interpret the seasons, and see the signs, that point to the end of time. The bible says that we are to look for the return of Christ, and speed His coming.
While every generation looks for Jesus to come back in its lifetime, there has never, in the history of humankind, been a time riper for the Lord’s return. Everything promised in scripture is falling into place. I don’t know if Jesus will return in our lifetime, or not, but the prospect, the possibility, the hope, that He may come soon, thrills our souls. The Triumphant King of Kings will rapture His church. His kingdom will be on earth. We will rule, reign, and serve with Him. We will be with Him forever. He will wipe away every tear, and His joy will be ours, if we truly belong to Him.
We live in this hope. It sustains us through the trials of life, but there is another side of prophecy that strikes our hearts, and can fill us with fear. As it was in the days of Noah, and as it was in the day of Sodom and Gomorrah, so shall it be at the end. Godlessness and lawlessness will infect the whole human race. The full force of the demonic realm will come against the people of the earth. Terror will strike people’s hearts. Some will become martyrs because of their faith in Jesus Christ. Right will be considered wrong, and wrong will be considered right. The truth will be cast to the ground. Everything will be upside down, and we see all of these things happening with greater intensity as the day approaches.
We find ourselves caught in the crossfire on a spiritual battlefield. We live in the hope that is ours, through faith in Jesus Christ, but we also must live, day to day, in a world that is being overrun and consumed by godlessness. How do we cope? How can we watch the news without becoming completely frustrated, and depressed. The bible has a word of encouragement, and instruction, for us in times like these. It is found in Philippians 4:8, where we read, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable – if there is any moral excellence, and if there is any praise – dwell on these things.” (HCSB)
We are in the election season. We have to stay informed, in order to responsibly exercise our right to vote, even though we don’t know how much of what we see, and hear, we can believe. We live in an age or terrorism. There is not a week that goes by where we do not hear of a terrorist attack on innocent people. Lately it happens two or three times a week. We cannot process one atrocity before we are hit with another. The economies of the world are fragile, and subject to collapse. What would we do if suddenly we were not able to buy or sell food, clothing, gasoline, or electricity? We need to be informed, and we have a responsibility to our families to be as prepared as we can be, but we must not let what is happening in the world rob us of the joy that is ours in Christ Jesus.
As we reflect on Paul’s instructions to the Philippians, let us consider how much of what we hear on the news is really true. My observation of the news is that it is filled with half-truths, reported with parsed words, to promote a particular idea, or conviction. Every report comes with spin. I am suspect of everything I read on social media that is reported as news. I do not trust the words of the current administration, nor the hollow claims of most of the people who run for political office.
Our minds are daily filled with words that are not truthful, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, morally excellent, or praise worthy. Yet so many of our plans, and decisions, are based upon our comprehension of the words reported to us from people in a fallen world. Often these people purposefully distort the truth, and promote godlessness.
We have to be informed, but the news can be frightening to decent, law-abiding, God-fearing, folks. So basically, it all boils down to a choice. Do we choose to live in fear, or do we choose to live in hope? Do we wring our hands over the godless attacks on our way of life, or do we live in faith, trusting in Jesus to protect us, and to guide us? How do we balance our responsibility to be aware of our surroundings, and to survive in a fallen world, with our commitment to Christ, and our walk in faith?
According to this verse of scripture, while we make ourselves aware of what is going on in the world around us, we must dwell upon that which is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, morally excellent, and praise-worthy. We don’t dwell upon the godlessness of the world; we dwell upon our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and the word of God. In scripture we find absolute truth, and the source for discernment about everything that is proclaimed to be true. In the bible we find the references to all that we hope for. In the word of God we find the promise that this world is going to pass away, but you and I are going to be all right. We will be with Him. We will be like Him. We will reign with Him, forever, if we truly belong to Him. Fill your mind with these truths. Dwell on them. Live in the hope that is ours through faith in Jesus Christ, no matter what happens in this world.