Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Framing the Future

Winston Churchill quipped "The main qualification for political office is the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month and next year. And to have the ability afterward to say why it didn't". In the true wit of Churchill, lies the raw reality that leadership is often flummoxed by the uncertainty of the future. It must be approached with true humility. It has been a mixture of sadness and amusement that I have now listened to 3 decades of 'prophetic voices' proclaim their biased eschatological perspectives, but rarely offer an apology for their error. Yet, we cannot ignore such a mighty matter.
Framing the future must be simply bible. Without the hectic nature of the books of Daniel and Revelation, we can still find confidence in the sacred text, as we seek to ready the church for the "last of the last days". Now I am not suggesting we ignore these two books. Quite the opposite. As lovers of the scripture, we are to mine these truths with dignity and teachability — refraining from morbid narcissistic dogmatism. The Spirit wants to keep opening these texts to us as long as we are found in His presence.

But what about texts like Matt 24? These wondrous Jesus words are being felt around the world even as we pray. "Many will come in my name... but will lead many astray..." The error of the arrogant heretic will intensify in these last days. "Wars and rumors of war" splash across our screens as the Middle East burns in righteous revolution. "Famines and earthquakes" shudders the nation of New Zealand and straddles the continent of Africa in full flight. "They will deliver you up for persecution and put you to death" the quiet genocide of Christians does not gain traction in the postmodern media but the statistics are alarming. "You will be hated by all nations" is spreading rapidly across the darkened skies.

My spiritual father taught us in the 70's - "some signs for all times, all signs for end times". As the days of project planet earth draws to a close, so the signs will gather in force, more and more of them... every and all of them. However the most glorious sign of the last of last days will be that " the gospel of the kingdom will be preached to all nations then the end will come"

Yes, and there are many other verses that can drive a destructive stake in the fragile heart of the ill prepared believer. These texts are not there to drive fear into our hearts. They are there to empower us to train well for the days which lie ahead. They are like pre-season endurance training - the season gives meaning to our hard work. Will it be early elimination or will it be play-offs? They are there to shape our hope for the days which lie ahead. "Where sin abounds, there grace much more abounds"

This we know, a nation at war lives differently to a nation in times of peace. Our conversations about "church" has to be reconsidered as we frame the future...

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