And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4 ESV)
When one reads the news, it is rarely good. From little things such as the fact that majority of the American people disapprove of and don’t trust their government to big things such as ongoing wars and natural and man-made disasters, things seem to be falling apart. I am sure that you have seen it in your own lives as well. Job loss, debt collector harassment, marital strife, family tension…the list goes on and on.
For many Christians, this is viewed simply as signs of the end times. After all, Jesus Himself predicted that families would turn in on themselves and that war was imminent. But there is one thing that we all tend to forget, and Jesus said it Himself: these things are just the beginning.
This is one of the things that makes the story of Jesus so intriguing to me. The end is near, the Day of the Lord is fast approaching and yet Jesus doesn’t call us to run to the mountains and lift our hands and wait to be taken up in the clouds. He predicts that bad things are coming but doesn’t say, “So just look for the lesson and when you find it, I will deliver you.” No. He actually calls us to something that is pretty much the opposite of that.
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father…Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age. (Matthew 16:24b-27a, 28:19-20 ESV)
Jesus calls us to embrace our sufferings and follow Him because God Himself is on His way here. Not only that, but we are also called to proclaim Christ’s Kingdom message to all the world. If I had to boil all of this down into a good, one sentence catch-phrase I would say that we are called to deliver until we are delivered.
We are called to a life of radical eschatological living.
But what does that mean? What does the radical, end-time life of the Jesus-follower look like? More on that next time.