A lot of people get eschatology, or beliefs on the end times, wrong. Really wrong. We argue and fight over pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation, and post-tribulation rapture (orwhether there really will be a rapture). We point and laugh (or yell) at those close-minded pre-millennials or those wacky a-millennials. Even many of you who have read some of these terms and don’t really know what they mean still have a strong opinion, you just put it in different terms. I know it was a shock for me when I realized that things may not happen exactly the way they were set out in those Left Behind books – who knew Tim LaHaye could be wrong!
I don’t think people get end times theology wrong because their viewpoint doesn’t agree with mine. I’m not sure I agree with my viewpoint on end times theology! They get it wrong because they think that figuring out when Christ is coming back is the point. It’s not. While talking about the end times in 1 Thessalonians, Paul says, “So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and sober.” (5:6,ESV) We are to be attentive, to remember that we have not been put on this earth to wander aimlessly, but to accomplish tasks that God has put before us.
Too often we live purposeless lives, wandering from task to task, going to school, going to work, going to church, all without really thinking about why we are doing these things. Before Christ returned to heaven, he told his disciples that they had work to do. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matt 28:19-20) He does not tell them to “Go try to make disciples” or “When it is convenient, make disciples.” There is an expectation placed on Christ’s followers, and results aren’t just hoped for; they are expected.
So what about when this doesn’t happen? What happens when Christians just let these commands slide, when they become unfocused and forget that they are on this planet for a reason?
I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. -Rev 3:15-17
I think sometimes we try to convince ourselves that this statement doesn’t have as strong a command attached as it actually does. These “Christians” are simply lukewarm…not hot, not cold, just sort of a comfortable medium. They think things are going well; they have what they need for life, they are comfortable and happy. God says they are “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” I sure don’t want God to describe me like that! I don’t ever want quote marks to be used when I am labeled “Christian.” I don’t think “Christians” get to go to the same place when they die that Christians go to (see Matt7:21-23).
As Christians, we need to be driven. Our lives should have a trajectory, we should be accomplishing something for the Kingdom of God, and there should be a purpose to what we do. I do not mean that we should be meeting some sort of quota or that a specific set of measurable accomplishments must be met. I do mean we should have an expectation that God is going to use us to bring Him glory and to point others in this world towards Him. Our jobs, our hobbies, and our friendships should all be purposely used to bring glory to God. We don’t work just to make money; we use the opportunity to share Christ with our coworkers. Our hobbies aren’t just to waste extra time, they are to honor God with the gifts and opportunities He has given us, to enjoy His creation, and to share experiences with others. Our friendships are not centered on what we can get from others, but on the love that we can share with those whom we come into contact, all because of the absolutely incredible love that God and poured out onto us. We see this purpose in our lives, and we go for it, not as a nice opportunity but as a reason for our being – bringing glory to God through the life that He has given each of us.
There is a classic Monty Python sketch where a group of less-than-intelligent men are lined up for a race. As the starting pistol fires and the race starts, one of the runners takes off to the far right, two others start spinning around, and the remaining runners awkwardly run in the general direction that they are supposed to be going, while the first runner crosses their path, still running in the wrong direction. Do you ever get the sense that this is how we are pursuing Christ? As silly as this may seem, we do get sidetracked and forget that we are running a race towards a goal. That is why Paul reminds us to “run that you may obtain [the prize].” (1 Cor9:24) It is for this reason that we have been created. This is why we are have been put in this place at this time. Are you driven?