Bad Times

Are you preparing your people for the “bad times?”

I was studying the Seal Judgments in Revelation chapter six recently and my mind began to wander. I began to think about the recent appetite our culture has developed for television shows with a doomsday theme or underpinning. It seems like almost every show I see on Nat Geo, Discovery, A& E, etc. are fixated on the thesis of preparing for disaster. This would involve anything from designing and building your own fallout bunker to learning how to survive on leaves and grubs in the Alaskan wilderness. Preparedness has become good television … solid entertainment … amusement for people, most of whom have never probably experienced the threat of domestic terrorism or even a nature hike gone wrong. But, has this entertainment come with a price tag? As I was thinking about this question I began to realize that the disciplines of being prepared are becoming, or have become, anecdotal; an amusing satire of conspiracy theories and crazy people draining their life savings on ammo and bomb-shelters. The virtue (if we can call it that) of preparedness has been cheapened – maybe sterilized completely – in the eyes of our culture and within the heart of our church. The irony is that our attitude about preparedness should probably concern us more than the disasters we’re neglecting to prepare for.

As part of my study I was also reading through Matthew 24 (the Olivet Discourse). As I was studying the text in Matthew I found that the most upsetting statements Jesus makes were not about the suffering and persecution Christians will experience; the most upsetting statements foretell the professing “Christian’s” response to those things. In Matthew 24:9-13 Jesus tells his disciples, “… they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.” What a heartbreaking day when many will fall away because their faith was not healthy enough to carry them through this future period of persecution and suffering. Perhaps this is one reason why God inspired the author of Hebrews to write these words in Hebrews 10:24-25, “… let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” It is within this stimulation of fellowship that we refine our level of readiness for the Day that is approaching.

Please know that I am in no way suggesting the church should stockpile weapons or invest in freeze-dried food. I am, however, encouraging the church leaders I know to inventory the spiritual preparedness of their people. Is the faith of the people you influence equipped to overcome catastrophe? Is your church’s devotion to Jesus Christ able to survive the suffering that we see described in the Olivet Discourse? Would the faith of the people you lead and influence survive the hardship of losing a job, the crisis of a bad diagnosis or the heartache caused by a rebellious child? The best question we can ask as church leaders is: are we doing everything within our ability to be used by God to equip our people for bad times? The trials that confront the Christian faith are neither a conspiracy nor a theory. They are very real and they are openly disclosed to us throughout the New Testament. When those trials come will the people you lead, love and influence have a faith that is robust enough to overcome the fallout?


About Matt Brecht
Lead Pastor of NorthPointe Church

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