Gripped by Rapture Fever?

wordswag_1505219647838Hurricanes blew through our southern states, floods came displacing thousands. An earthquake shook Mexico and there was loss of life. North Korea’s Kim Jong Un fired off more missiles while making nuclear threats. And, predictably some Christians started speculating about ‘the end of days!’  Jesus will return in the Father’s time. But, why must we think that every crisis is a sign of the times?

Yes, I do pray, “may your Kingdom come and Your will be done.”  Yes, the frightful state of the world often causes me to want to see the King coming on the clouds! “Lord, let Your Kingdom come.”  When the Curse of sin brings real and lasting pain to people sometimes the only words I can find in prayer are, “Lord, let Your Kingdom come.” But, I know that praying for the Kingdom is not just about Jesus’ Return. It is my responsibility to live as Kingdom subject, now, here, in this present world.

What does that mean? It means that I love justice, I practice compassion, I live with mercy, I advocate for what is good! Kingdom Christians are making their King known, representing Him well, in the middle of the pain, the problems, the panic of this present world. (Or, at least they ought to.) Christ is my King. In a real sense, His Kingdom has come. A recurring theme of Jesus’ message was to tell people that the Kingdom of God has come near you.   Let me quickly qualify that by acknowledging we do not yet know His reign perfectly.

Like Paul, we are works in progress.  “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14, NIV)

Are you only hoping for a future Kingdom, Christian, or are you entering into God’s provision, protection, and power now?

This does not take away from the fact that when we pray for the coming of His Kingdom we also anticipate the second coming of the Lord!  This hope does not rest on a few isolated texts in the Bible. That promise appears again and again. Isaiah looked for the Kingdom of God to come with peace. Ezekiel saw frightful visions of the Kingdom to come.  Daniel’s prophecy is about the Kingdom to come. “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. “The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and the interpretation is trustworthy.” (Daniel 2:44-45, NIV)

Let’s not turn our Blessed Hope of Christ’s return into sensational speculation. Rapture fever distracts too many Christians from Kingdom living! Though we long for the glory of sin’s defeat and the wonder of the full realization of our salvation, there is yet much to do while we wait.  The Scripture’s promises of a renewal of all things, a final defeat of evil, and the revelation of God’s glory is not meant to distract us from doing the work of the Lord. It is a promise to keep us on purpose, boldly facing the world, our sinful nature, and the Devil himself with tenacity in proclamation of Christ’s Gospel.

Are the headlines about disasters, wars, and violence tearing at your soul? Does the cruelty of sin get you down? Are you weary, Christian, wanting to be holy but finding yourself failing too often?

 The word from the Word embraces the ‘now and not yet’ of the Kingdom. Lord, make us Kingdom people who make You known. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:11-14, NIV)

_________

Song For The Nations

May we be a shining light to the nations
A shining light to the peoples of the earth
‘Til the whole world sees the glory of Your name
May Your pure light shine through us

 May we bring a word of hope to the nations
A word of life to the peoples of the earth
‘Til the whole world knows
There’s salvation through Your name
May Your mercy flow through us

 May we be a healing balm to the nations
A healing balm to the peoples of the earth
‘Til the whole world knows
The power of Your name
May Your healing flow through us

 May we sing a song of joy to the nations
A song of praise to the peoples of the earth
‘Til the whole world rings
With the praises of Your name
May Your song be sung through us

 May Your kingdom come to the nations
Your will be done in the peoples of the earth
‘Til the whole world knows
That Jesus Christ is Lord
May Your kingdom come in us

 May Your kingdom come in us
May Your kingdom come on earth

Chris Christensen © 1986 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (Integrity Music) CCLI License # 810055

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