"It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine ..."
That's a line from the chorus of a hit song by the band R.E.M. And I think, surprisingly, there's a great deal of truth in it.
I was pulled aside after a Sunday morning service not long ago by an attendee who wanted to know when I was going to be warning the congregation about the impending crash of the world economy that Illuminati would be orchestrating in order to decrease the human population by up to 90 percent. After several minutes of hearing of the danger of vaccines, conspiracies with communist nations and the malicious intent of the heads of states, I finally held up a hand and said, "Even if this were all true, I'd be completely comfortable preaching exactly what I just preached."
I believe, at the time, I was in a series called Roots based on the book of Colossians. We were covering such subjects as how to spot real love, how to grow deeper in Christ and how to live a spiritually fruitful life.
This isn't the first time I've been confronted about my lack of urgency about end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it issues. There are also these pesky blood moons to worry about. And someone is always trying to kill us with vaccines, or aspartame, or a zombie virus, or purple dinosaurs on TV, the numerical value of whose names add up to 666 and therefore must be the antichrist in disguise ... I've heard it all ...
I'm a skeptical believer. I've come to have a sturdy faith in Jesus because I believe the central truths of Christianity stand up under tests of logic, reason, science, history, archaeology and textual criticism. I embrace the Bible as inerrant, as crazy as that may sound to some.
But I'm still skeptical. I don't mind wrestling with big questions and have found it to embolden my faith over time. I'm especially skeptical of teachings and arguments that serve as a distraction from the main thing—the gospel.
Let's say, hypothetically, that the blood moons point to the end of the world as we know it. The Illuminati is planning to trim the human race back a bit and assume complete control over our lives economically and militarily. What I'd want to preach about this coming Sunday is ... the good news that Jesus Christ died to save sinners and rose again.
And if that wild theory is hogwash and poppycock (the direction I'm inclined to lean in), then what I'd want to preach this coming Sunday is ... the good news that Jesus Christ died to save sinners and rose again.
The Apostle Paul once warned a young pastor named Timothy to rebuke some leaders in the ancient church of Ephesus for getting people off track in endless debates about myths, legends and Old Testament genealogies. As Paul put it, "nor pay attention to fables and endless genealogies, which cause debates rather than godly edifying, which is in faith" (1 Tim. 1:4).
And then Paul continued by saying, "Now the goal of this command is love from a pure heart, and from a good conscience, and from sincere faith" (v. 5).
I love that statement. Paul is essentially charging Timothy to avoid motivating people to seek God on the basis of fear, rational or otherwise, and instead to seek him on the basis of love and a desire for purity and real faith.
I don't want people to be afraid of the end of the world. After all, what do we Christians have to worry about in the eternal scheme of things? Though the world fall apart around us and our bodies be destroyed, we live on! We win! We enjoy victory!
I'm not attempting to minimize the seriousness of persecution, which is obviously a real and present danger in our world. I'm simply saying that there are some essentials to be preached weekly regardless of the direction the world around us is headed.
If the world were ending tomorrow, I'd want to preach this Sunday the good news that Jesus Christ died to save sinners and rose again, and that we can live a life of faith in him that matters for eternity. And if the world hangs around a few more millennia, I'd want to preach the same exact message. It's (possibly, at any moment) the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.
You can build a congregation in size and collect large offerings by creating anxiety, fear, and anger toward the outside world, but I don't think you'd be on task. In fact, you might just wind up starting a cult, which never ends well.
Instead, lead people to life in Jesus. Lead people to the cross for redemption. Lead people to discover the life worth living no matter what the world looks like around us. Lead people to follow Jesus, emulate his character, and implement the ways and practices conveyed in Scripture.
- Confront sin and apathy.
- Point people to redemption in the cross of Christ.
- Equip believers to live a life of faith.
- Empower servant leaders.
- Strengthen families.
- Reinforce the biblical faith.
- And hail the triumphant return of King Jesus.
In other words, this Sunday ... Preach. The. GOOD. NEWS.
Brandon Cox has been a pastor for 15 years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as editor of pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders. He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.
For the original article, visit pastors.com.
Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Help Charisma stay strong for years to come as we report on life in the Spirit. Become an integral part of Charisma’s work by joining Charisma Media Partners. Click here to keep us strong!
Dr. Mark Rutland's
National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)
The NICL is one of the top leadership training programs in the U.S. taught by Dr. Mark Rutland. If you're the type of leader that likes to have total control over every aspect of your ministry and your future success, the NICL is right for you!
FREE NICL MINI-COURSE - Enroll for 3-hours of training from Dr. Rutland's full leadership course. Experience the NICL and decide if this training is right for you and your team.Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you’re not growing? Do you need help from an expert in leadership? There is no other leadership training like the NICL. Gain the leadership skills and confidence you need to lead your church, business or ministry. Get ready to accomplish all of your God-given dreams. CLICK HERE for NICL training dates and details.
The NICL Online is an option for any leader with time or schedule constraints. It's also for leaders who want to expedite their training to receive advanced standing for Master Level credit hours. Work through Dr. Rutland's full training from the comfort of your home or ministry at your pace. Learn more about NICL Online. Learn more about NICL Online.