Let’s admit it; we’re afraid. That’s why we wear masks, because we fear death. That’s why we oppose wearing masks, because we fear our freedom is being taken. That’s why we travel to another state to protest the removal of a statue, because we fear that our culture will be lost, or that liberal progressivism will bind us all in communism.
Fear is why we protest and riot, because we’re afraid that prejudice will visit us next, that the conservative agenda is to oppress us. That’s why we feel the need to stage a counter-protest, because what if this or that group’s tirade is heard without our rebuttal close behind? We can’t just let their flawed ideology ring out against empty walls. What if someone actually hears their opinion? Heaven forbid their voice is heard and not mine.
That’s why we resist arrest, because we fear we’re being arrested because of our skin color, and we must prove our innocence on the spot, because our day in court is rigged against us as well. That’s why we want to build a wall, because we love our comfort, and if I share it with others there might not be enough for me.
I hope it’s obvious by now that I’m speaking to all of us, no matter our leaning – left, right, Christian, other. We’re all driving this division. Fear is powering it, and it will bring us to ruin.
And that’s why we post devisive things on social media, because we fear what might happen to our way of life if our version of the perfect society comes in 2nd. (And we’ve become so polarized that there really are only two utopias in the running. How sad that we think utopia on earth is possible, and even more sad that we can only come up with two versions of it).
Fear is what drives us to correct, report, or censor opinions contrary to our own. It’s getting to the point that nothing can be said on social media without someone else being unable to resist the urge to correct them – based on their infallible knowledge and unbiased citations, of course.
And that’s another thing we fear: misinformation. And yet, in the face of this burning fear, we aim at our opponent this or that article or video, as if it’s the unbiased gospel truth, and we fear what may happen if our so called Facebook friend goes on believing their lie, or worse, their ignorance spreads to others.
And although greed is why misinformation exists, fear is how it’s propagated. Did you catch that? Fear is what compels us to help misinformation flourish. (And I’m coming to the conclusion that every piece of media from all leanings is misinformation of some variety).
And be careful not to think it’s anger that drives us to do these things. Sure, we get angry, but anger is always, in every case, a secondary emotion. Some other emotion always precedes anger, even if for a fraction of a second. I’m convinced the primary emotion in all of this is fear. Fear is the spirit of the age.
If I could condense all the above fears, I would say we all fear (from our various perspectives) that we are soon going to be deprived of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Can I just remind us all that “God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7). And can we ponder for a moment that if God didn’t give us this debilitating spirit of fear that is causing so much havoc in our country and in our world, then who did? Of course it’s the accusers, the haters, the fear mongers, the ones they call ha satan.
Why does the enemy have so much sway over our emotions? Because we give it to him. No other reason. We’ve been commissioned by God to have dominion on this earth, but from Adam to us, we’ve been giving the enemy authority they haven’t earned. And now we’re even giving them authority over our own minds. Not that this is a new thing; it’s just very prevalent these days.
I understand that what I’m about to say is going to sound pessimistic, though in my mind it’s actually very hopeful. So please don’t think that I’m saying this out of fear.
Ok, here goes. I suspect it’s too late to do anything about it at this point. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are all rights that will soon be stripped from us – no matter who takes the throne next, or after that. Information is twisted beyond straightening, trust is too damaged, the fears are too strong. Civilization may very well not recover this time. A civil war won’t cut it. A world war is not enough. Another great depression would be a step in the right direction (hit us where it really hurts, right?), but the affects would only last so long. Plus, an economic depression could be the catalyst for a cashless society and RFID chips for everyone like the Great Depression was for the social security number, but I digress.
The loss of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Wars, and famines, and plagues? Poverty, trials, and tribulations? Persecution? How could I say that’s a hopeful thought?
Let me answer with another question. Why should it surprise us that this is all coming? It’s prophesied. It’s going to happen. Our false assumption is that we can postpone it by making sure our avenue to utopia is the one that shows up on the government’s GPS. My question is: even if delaying the end were possible, should we really be attempting to push that out further? Why would we? Because we’re afraid of it? I understand that it will be a painful and scary time, but the end carries with it our hope of glory. Sure, I could drown, or die of a heart attack, or cancer, or a gun shot wound to the head. And those would all be easier than what’s described in the book of Revelation, but to endure an apocalypse just long enough that I get to see Christ coming down to meet us? Bring it on! Maranatha! That’s why I say it’s hopeful.
I suppose by now I’m telegraphing my belief that there is no pre-tribulation rapture, but let’s set that aside. A rapture, yes. I’m just not convinced it’s before a tribulation. I mean, if you do believe in a pre-trib rapture then all the more reason not to fear the end, right?
Still, we try so hard to manipulate politics and culture in an attempt to steer it away from things that invoke judgement. And that’s okay if it’s steering actual souls to Christ, but my sense is that our motive isn’t to protect others from judgement. If it were, we wouldn’t be arguing with people online and posting divisive memes. Those things just deepen our “opponent’s” resolve. They harden their hearts, if you will. (That’s a nugget if you care to follow it). If we actually cared about our enemies the way Jesus commanded us to, we would be loving people, serving people, praying for people, not lashing out at them. No, it’s not love that drives us; I think our motive is fear, fear that we’ll get lumped in with them for the hellfire and brimstone portion of the apocolypse. But actions and statements motivated by fear will always tear down; they will never build up.
What’s the antidote to fear? Peace. If we’re at peace with Christ and that peace transcends life, death, comfort and tribulation, our words and actions will build up. They will draw in. We know this, but we continue to exhibit actions and words motivated by fear and apprehension about Christ’s second coming. Are we afraid we’re not spiritually ready for that? Then get ready. How? Stop loving the world and your life in it, and start loving your Father. Too simple? Sorry.
And I get it. I feel Babylon’s fish hooks in me too. They feel sooo good, and to pull them out would feel so bad, but that’s the call from Revelation 18:4, “Come out of her my people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues.” Those hooks are exactly what bind us to this world, and being bound to Babylon is a very dangerous place.
Jesus tells a parable in Luke 14 of a man who was throwing a huge banquet (Matthew adds that it was a wedding banquet, which is significant to us because Revelation is the revealing of the Bridegroom coming for his betrothed). So the Father sends his messengers out to tell the invited guests to come. But they all make excuses as to why now is a bad time. So he tells His messengers to go back out and invite any old random people they see. And then Jesus ends with this frightening statement – no really, this is something worth fearing. He says, “not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.” Why? Because they loved this world and their life in it too much. Their response wasn’t, “Yes. This is it. I’ve been waiting so long for this day! Maranatha!” No. It was a bad time for them. Rather inconvenient really. They had something “good” going on. They were doing well in the world. They had cool stuff. They had relationships they weren’t ready to “give up.” Can’t it wait til I’ve enjoyed my new spouse a while? Had some kids maybe? Watched them graduate, get married? I’d really like to see grandkids.
They’d been invited. Knew it was coming…some day. Kind of had some favorable thoughts toward the event, but really weren’t certain of what to expect. Sound familiar? That’s us.
Paul says in 1 Cor 16:22, “If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed!” Like Francis Chan says (and I’m paraphrasing), “Should we really expect to inherit the Lord’s kingdom if we don’t actually love Jesus?” And how can we say we love Jesus if we’re really not looking forward to His coming? We should be ready and awaiting that day more than our wedding day, more than Christmas morning, more than anything.
That term I used: Maranatha. What is that? It’s the phrase that comes at the end of verse 22. “If anyone does not love the Lord, let that person be cursed. Maranatha.” What does it mean? It simply means “Come Lord Jesus.” So simple, and yet so beautiful. It’s talking about Christ’s second coming – and all the judgement and splendor that entails. It’s where we get our word marathon. It’s the same word friends, family, and teammates would shout to an Olympic runner as he neared the finish line. “Maranatha! You’ve got this! We believe in you! You’re a champion!”
Paul and the early Christians were suffering greatly for their faith and eagerly awaiting Christ’s return and the justice and actualization of all their hopes for glory. We have completely lost this treasured hope and anticipation. It’s been stolen, largely by our own comfort and lack of devotion to Jesus. But it’s high time we steal it back. First century Christians had persecution to drive them to Jesus. I suspect before too long we will feel a lot like they did. But that shouldn’t trouble us. Maranatha is a jubilant and hopeful exclamation from the mouths of humans to the ears of God to deliver the promise of everlasting life in paradise WITH HIM.
We’ve nothing to fear. Not death, not the degradation of this world, not the end, nor even the tribulation. In Him, we will overcome. “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
So once again, it’s simple – maybe not easy, but simple. Stop loving the world and our life in it, and start loving our Father. Maranatha!