Some blame immigration for our troubles, while others complain the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer, whilst multinational companies avoid paying taxes… Democracy itself is being tested by this uncertainty; the change appears too great for the 49% who wanted reform not revolution. There is more anger and frustration being demonstrated than we have witnessed for some time. We have voted for change, but what will the future shaped by Brexit look like? How will the world be affected by an America led by Donald Trump? The truth is, none of us really knows!
How should we live in these days? I think the church has a key role to play, one we’ve always had, to be a light in the darkness, a beacon of hope in an uncertain world. Biblical authors had a distinct way of describing times like these, times of change in the world order. They announced that the unshakable things are being shaken: the sun will be darkened or turn black, the stars will fall from heaven, the moon will turn blood red or no longer shed any light. None of these ‘signs’ was supposed to be interpreted literally, they were just a way of saying that an established order, an empire or way of life, would be swept away by great change.
Jesus himself told us there’d be times like these, along with wars, rumours of wars, famines & earthquakes. He told us because He didn’t want us to be shaken. He wanted us to expect these times of uncertainty and distress so that we’d be ready, not taken by surprise. The Kingdom is coming, but that doesn’t mean that everything will be rosy. It comes in the midst of troubles, of trials and of persecutions. In fact, Jesus says these are not signs of the end, but just signs that things are not as they should be. He says that if we’re looking for a sign that the end might come, when God finally makes all things new, then it will only come once the Good News has been preached in all the world!
Knowing this, we can be filled with peace and joy despite the uncertainty and the trials. No matter what we see or hear, we know that “of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:7). That means we can shine like stars in the darkness, we can be beacons of hope. We know that God is love and that He is for us, that He still sits on His throne, that He laughs at the machinations of those who plot evil, and that His Kingdom will fill the whole earth. We also know that His Kingdom only comes as His people step out in faith and do the things He asks of us. As His children, we are to become like Him; as His ambassadors, we are to represent Him; and as His co-workers, we are to work along with Him to bring peace, healing and hope to the world. We are too weak to accomplish this by ourselves, so He gives us His Spirit to guide us, teach us, encourage us, comfort us and empower us.
Let the words of Jesus fill and refresh our hearts again today: “I have spoken these things to you, that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
As we enter the Christmas season again, let’s fill ourselves up with the Good News the angels announced, peace and goodwill toward men & women, joy for all people. A Saviour has been born and His kingdom will grow to fill the earth. So let’s keep our eyes on Jesus, love everyone, and demonstrate that heaven is close.