A few hours ago I found a leaflet on our doormat which had been pushed through our letter box; It announced 'Christ is Coming!'. The leaflet was colourful and attractive. It was printed by the Christadelphians religious sect. And a thought quickly jumped into my mind:
WHY DO WE LEAVE IT TO THESE GROUPS TO ANNOUNCE THIS FACT?
Why do we allow groups such as 'Jehovah's Witnesses' and 'Christiadelphians' - and all the rest of them - to take the initiative in proclaiming the possible imminent return of Jesus Christ?
We know that the apostle Paul strived to appeal to people exactly where they were; here is where people will be most receptive!
Today thousands are concerned with the state of this world; they are concerned about teenage crime; they are concerned about raising their children in an environment in which - more and more - anything goes!; they are concerned about their job security; they are concerned too with having to maintain a lifestyle which society expects of the 'successful' as it becomes increasingly obvious that this - in the long term - has a detrimental affect upon family life. They are concerned too about some issues which the media especially loves such as 'climate change'; in short, despite their undoubted affluence, increasing numbers of those living in the West feel that this world could be heading for major problems!
Just now when I saw this attractive leaflet on my doormat I asked myself: 'What affect would this have upon me, if I was not already a Christian?'
The answer was that I believe that I would have found it intriguing! Yes, people love to find possible 'ways out' for their problems. One can just imagine a few people thinking, 'Well I know that some do believe in Jesus Christ...is it really possible that these people have the answers? And I think if I were in such a position, I would open the leaflet, especially in view of the challenging assertion on its cover. Whats the harm in looking inside?
To be frank, the cults and sects have been clever in recognising that this approach is going to have some real appeal; why are we evangelicals so slow here?
When a Jehovah's Witness knocks your door and asks about your concerns regarding the way our modern societies are going, they are being intelligent in their approach. They know that this is an area which concerns thousands! They are also aware that the whole area of the possibility of a supernatural God intervening in this world's events is an intriguing and exciting prospect for many people, even if these people have little concept of the Christian God. Witness the popularity of various apocalyptic movies over the last number of years. In short, they are being 'all things to all men that they might win some'. They dangle a carrot which they know that people will find intriguing. Of course, if those people 'bite', they may well be sucked into a whole area in which various mind control tactics are shamelessly employed. They will only find a version of 'biblical truth' which is hopelessly perverted.
As a former member of such a group, I can still clearly recall how I found this apocalyptic approach so exciting. I compared it to the approach of 'the church on the corner' and I found that approach uninteresting, uninspiring and, frankly, dreary. It had nothing for me! There is no reason why us Bible-believing Christians cannot occasionally take a 'leaf out of the book' of these groups here by being more ready to interact with people in their modern insecurities. We have the Gospel of Jesus Christ which we can offer!
If we occasionally choose to approach people in these areas, however, we must avoid all the unwise extremes of prophetic particularism! Yes, we can indeed point out that there are indications that Christ's return could be very close, but we should resist all tendencies toward the exploitation of Bible prophecy, including the unwise positive identification of such figures as the 'Beast' and the 'False Prophet' with personalities currently in the news. Such unwise practises have sometimes turned Bible believers into 'laughing stocks' when events showed them to be wildly in error. Some such unwise prognosticators - having more enthusiasm than solid Bible knowledge - have even occasionally been misguided enough to make statements such as, "If - - is not the Beast, then we cannot count on the Bible; mark my words: - - is the man to fulfil this prophecy!' In fact, only too frequently, such people have then died and the misguided biblical 'forecaster' has been left with egg on his or her face! This would be bad enough for them as individuals,but they have also brought the very Word of God into disrepute by the foolishness of their approach of 'prophetic particularism'.
So here is an area which everybody who calls themselves by the name of Jesus Christ must avoid.
But with this proviso, there is absolutely no reason why we should not be using a bit of spiritual acumen and common sense and getting things into letter boxes explaining how our Lord is the answer to the often terrible insecurities of modern life. It is interesting to wonder why people are often just as insecure in our day, as their great grandparents were in a day where those without regular employment were in a position of 'stealing or starving'.
Surely C.S. Lewis had the answer to this: People without God are like a car (automobile) without the correct fuel in the tank; we were made to 'run on' God! Put a different fuel in the tank and the car is going to cough and splutter and - perhaps - jerkily struggle along, though it might not go at all. We were designed to have a relationship with God. Ultimately, money and financial prosperity - which some in the past may have thought were the answer - only bring another lot of problems and insecurities! Why? Because God did not design us to 'run on' money!
J. Paul Getty seemed to be genuinely surprised that his countless millions still did not allow him to be a happy man; What a tragedy! Well, we Christians have the answer to this!
"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in Him. For all that is in the world - the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life - is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever"
(1 John 2:15-17)
So, in conclusion, Christ will indeed return and 'every eye shall see Him' - this we are promised. Of course, exactly when none of us know. But we should indeed warn people of this clear fact and the fact that the Lord will bring terrible judgement with Him! While it is mainly the cults and sects and a few extremist 'prophecy buffs' who usually 'major' on this, HERE IS AN AREA WHICH MANY OF US CAN SURELY USE MUCH MORE IN BRINGING THE 'WORD OF TRUTH' TO PEOPLE'S ATTENTION! While certainly not advocating any extreme in which we only talk about this, I am convinced that (as long as we avoid 'prophetic particularism') here is an area we could, perhaps address a little more. It is also an area which - as the sects have proved - people are often going to be ready to listen. Who do I mean by 'We'? I am talking about balanced but firmly Bible-believing Christians.
We should not leave this area just to extremist groups and teachers!
"Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven"