14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (ESV)
Hopefully more often than not, we Christians have encountered the looming topic of the end times in our respective churches. In my opinion, it is a necessary topic because it serves multiple purposes: 1) it keeps us vigilant, watching after His return, 2) it should move us to further spread His Word to the nations in order to bring about His kingdom, 3) living a life with the awareness of the end times should alert us to the fact that…they are coming soon.
And what exactly should be our attitude as we set our faces against the incoming darkness? Should we, perhaps, in our vigilance, deny all communication with the world to prevent ourselves from stumbling? Because surely we’re called to not be unequally yoked, right? Do we, as “good Christians,” cling to our beliefs and try and weather the storm? Or do we, amidst raging waters around us, choose to jump into the tempest and rescue those whose cries for help are muffled by the roar of the environment around us? I hesitate to call it a problem because I believe that every believer has his own experience of Christ and his own calling as well, but there does seem to be an attitude of indifference to the Gospel that is spreading among younger believers nowadays. I myself, until pretty much freshman year of college, was guilty of having such an attitude. However, standing on the other side of the matter, I firmly believe that there needs to be a rekindling of passion for the Gospel within God’s children. And this passion needs to be founded on something that is intangible but material.
1 Timothy 1:18-19
18 This charge I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 holding faith and a good conscience. By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith…
It is a warfare that we are gradually becoming more steeped in. But unlike the wars waged by the nations, this warfare is invisible and ultimately, far more difficult. For how can we, as seeing and hearing beings, participate in a fight that cannot be seen by eye nor heard by ear? It is a matter of “holding faith and a good conscience.” As a young believer growing up in a church filled with elder saints, I had always relied on them to fight my battles and tell the tales of their victories and defeats. However, upon entering college, the great, and understandably fearsome, realization that the time has come for me to pick up and put on my armor as detailed in Ephesians 6. The charge is now upon me to fight the good fight, and do so to bring glory to God and establish His kingdom on the earth. However, another difference between the warfare we wage and the battles of the world is that unlike the worldly wars, our fight is won with love.
As it says in 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” In our fight, too often I see believers castigating the ways of the world and hatefully denouncing those dwelling in the world. And yet, are they never reminded of their own beginnings in the world before God had grace and gave them His gift of salvation? It’s little wonder that young believers are easily cowed by the argumentative ways of the world and shy away from taking up the mantle of sharing His Word to the nations. This fear is a crippling fear that shuts our mouths and makes our knees to tremble; it’s a testament to the current condition of the Christian life that one of the hardest (and terrifying) things to do is to just share the Gospel with those we encounter. There is no room for this fear in living the Christ-life that we have within us, for He came not in fear of the worldly, but to love those in the world. This love overcomes all fear, reminding us that we are not so important that we cannot bear a little shame for His will. After all, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, endured the highest humiliation when He died upon the Cross; who are we to linger behind and watch others pick up their crosses and follow Him? So great was His love that He sent His only Son to die for the sins of the many that they might be restored to Him, and as followers of Christ, can we not do the same in our own varieties of sacrificial love? It is not a matter of saving face, but a matter of His saving grace, and we must realize that the love of God within our hearts will move us into situations where we are not comfortable. Even so, He has given us boldness in Him to be able to share our experience with those around us, believing and unbelieving.
In closing, 2 Timothy 1:7 is a direct exhortation to all believers:
“7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” Let’s be diligent to exercise some of that power, that love, and that self-control as we ready ourselves to be lights in the gradual onset of darkness.