Many wonder what the corona crisis means in light of the end times. Is this the end of the world? Will Jesus come back now? Jesus told us: No. Not yet.
Just the beginning
In Matthew 24, Jesus says that crises just like the one that has gripped the world today will precede his Second Coming. Yet he warned, that we should not be alarmed when we hear about wars, or when famine and earthquakes hit the earth (or in today’s terms: economic and political unrest).
All these are just “the beginning of the birth pains” (Matthew 24:8). (Read also: How to thrive during lockdown)
Crises, persecution and lovelessness
According to Matthew 24:9-13 those crises will eventually be followed by an increased persecution of the believers, and an increase of lawlessness. Then, he says, many will fall away from the truth and the love of many will grow cold.
Lovelessness seems to be a good description of what is hitting the Church at the moment. People who think differently over certain controversial topics are vilified, cancelled, judged and condemned.
How many people have been hurt by other believers in the past months and turned their back on the Church? Which accusations are hurled at pastors and church leaders because all they do is try to safely navigate the church through a challenging season?
Christ calls us to persevere: in faith and in love. Matthew 24:13 says “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.“ (ESV) When following Christ really costs, then only those who are willing to pay the price will remain faithful.
And those who are willing to pay the price will preach the gospel unashamedly. They have nothing more to lose. But even persecution serves a purpose towards the Second Coming. Here is why:
Jesus calls the crises and persecution “birth pains”. The use of the term “birth pains” to illustrate what precedes the Second Coming is crucial:
- The nearer the birth, more intense and more frequent birth pains become.
Likewise, the crises of the end times will also get increasingly intensive and frequent, the closer we get to Jesus’ return.
- Birth pains force the birth. As soon as they set in, they put an abrupt end to the mother’s comfortable life and force a season of intense pain on her, from which she cannot escape. Her body is working with all its capacity to birth the baby.
Likewise, the crises will wake us up from our comfortable life, our pursuit of pleasure and our lukewarm spiritual state. As the crises intensify, especially persecution will push the body of Christ to work towards Christ’s Second Coming.
When will the end come?
How do we work towards Christ’s return? Jesus gives us a clue in verse 14: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then will the end come.” The end will come, once the gospel has been preached to all the world!
While now we may be embarrassed of preaching the gospel, or afraid of losing our job, or causing family friction – when one day living for Christ comes at a cost, those who are willing to pay the price, will gladly preach the gospel and rejoice to be found worthy to suffer for him (see Acts 5:41).
Maranatha – Come, Lord Jesus!
Crises and persecution will shake us up from our complacency that is so prevalent in the western Church today. And the worse it becomes, the more we will long for Christ’s return – and do everything to fasten his coming.
Then we will say wholeheartedly: “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)
Today, most of us frown at the thought of Jesus’ return. We don’t ever long for him to return soon. Because there is no need for it – life is going well, we enjoy a high standard of living and we feel at home on this earth.
We have forgotten what distinguished our heroes of faith: “By faith he [Abraham] sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country… because he waited for the city … whose builder and maker is God.“ (Hebrews 11:10) Abraham understood he was only passing through. Our generation who grew up in peace and prosperity is yet to understand this.
We’re here for a purpose. On a mission.
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The Great Commission
Our mission is stated in Mark 16:15: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” Let’s be honest with ourselves: are we really fulfilling this mission? Are we preaching the gospel to all the world – at least to the people around us? (Read also: It’s time to be a light to the world)
We are all called to evangelise – not just the evangelism team, or those famous evangelists who draw large crowds or have a large TV audience. It is our mission to reach people with the gospel – each in our own way, using the gifts and talents at our disposal.
Some can evangelise by preaching to large crowds. Others by engaging in apologetic debates. Others through the creative arts – singing, dancing, painting, crafting. And yet others by a friendly chat. We all have talents, gifts and skills that we can use to advance the Kingdom of God.
Sojourners on a mission
Maybe this current crisis will be the first of many, to shake us up and help us realise: this world is not our home and we should not get too comfortable in it. We are sojourners with a mission – to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God.
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