In Case of Rapture…

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S (Scripture): 1 Thessalonians 5:9 God didn’t intend for us to suffer his wrath but rather to possess salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 Jesus died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with him. 11 So continue encouraging each other and building each other up, just like you are doing already.

O (Observation):  Many in Paul’s time wondered when Jesus was coming back.  For many of that time, who believed that Jesus was the Son of God, Jesus’ return was thought to be imminent.  Like…tomorrow is Jesus’ likely time of return.   And because of this, many lived in fear.  They feared Jesus’ return, because they feared that they might be doing something “wrong” when Jesus comes back.  

So Paul reminds the people that Jesus was not about causing fear, but rather, salvation!   Jesus was about overcoming the gap in relationship between the people and God.  Death was the greatest gap between God and God’s people, and God overcame that gap by allowing Jesus to suffer and die, then be raised.   In being raised, Jesus overcame the power of sin and death.   

So, whether they are awake or asleep (that is, alive or dead) they are the Lord’s!  In other words, God is always with you.  So keep going about your work and stop worrying about your salvation being dependent upon the action you are engaging in at the exact moment Jesus comes back.   Instead, keep encouraging each other that God wishes for you to carry out your daily duties…and to do so with joy.   

A (Application):  I saw a bumper sticker once that said: “WARNING: In case of rapture, this car will be unmanned.”   I’ve also seen some that say: “In case of rapture, can I have your car?”

Obviously, the second sticker is a humorous response to the first.   But the first sticker represents a whole concept that inspires fear in Christian believers.   And unfortunately, that fear creates a sub-culture within Christianity that revolves around “doing / looking good for Jesus.”   The problem with this line of thinking is that – if we’re being honest – we will falter, and thus, we will be stressed out over our eternal salvation. 

Paul reminded those in Thessalonica that Jesus’ return was a joy, not a fear!

To non-Christians, the whole rapture component looks like cleaning up the house real quick before the parents come home.  Can’t let them know we had that party!   Quick, sweep that junk under the rug.  Toss out the beer cans!   Spray the Lysol EVERYWHERE.   

Look…God is bigger than our faults and failures…and the times in Scripture when God is most disappointed with us is when we try to cover up our faults and pretend that we are faithful, when we are not.  God is angry with empty praise and empty worship.   

God can handle our faults.  God simply requires a repentant heart.    God takes care of the rest.  

So let us encourage others – Christians and non-Christians alike – to be honest with one another and to humbly seek God’s forgiveness and the wideness of God’s mercy.   

P (Prayer): Lord, give us hearts of joy, not fear.  Amen.  

Hope and Humility

  

S (Scripture): 1 Peter 3:13 For who is going to harm you if you are devoted to what is good? 14 But in fact, if you happen to suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. But do not be terrified of them or be shaken. 15 But set Christ apart as Lord in your hearts and always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess. 16 Yet do it with courtesy and respect, keeping a good conscience, so that those who slander your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame when they accuse you. 17 For it is better to suffer for doing good, if God wills it, than for doing evil.

18 Because Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, to bring you to God, by being put to death in the flesh but by being made alive in the spirit.

O (Observation): Peter is trying to encourage the Christians in the varied parts of the world to consider the presence of Christ in the midst of their suffering.  He doesn’t ignore suffering, but points out that they can endure suffering, since Christ has endured the worst kind of suffering – death – and has overcome it.  

Peter also encourages the readers of this letter to be hope-filled.  As Hope-filled people…be humble about your explanation of your hope.    

A (Application):  Humility is sorely lacking in our/my use of social media.  It’s the perfect setting for terrible things to be said and read.   We have extremely limited means through which to communicate.  Characters and emojis and such just don’t get it done.  

And what’s worse, once something is up on social media…good luck removing it.  Good luck trying not to click on your worst post ever.  Or trying NOT to read that negative post that someone wrote about you.  Especially when you can’t delete it.  It feels so permanent.   It’s out there. And there’s nothing you can do to remove it!

So, like a dog going back to its vomit, I go back to those posts.  Bleck!

So what I don’t understand is how I can get so caught up with these things, when I know that Christ has my salvation securely in check…

Then I think about the lack of humility in our conversations.  (I’m guilty of this, just as much as others out there, btw.). Peter talks about giving your answer with courtesy and respect. 

And take note of what Peter expects our responses to be when someone asks us why we are so hopeful:  “give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess” (v. 15). Give “an” answer.   Give your answer.  Tell me who Jesus is TO YOU.   Sure, we can all spout off doctrine of some sort or another, but what does Jesus’ death and resurrection mean to you.  

To the drug addict, hope might look different than it does to the suburban family that has no drug problems.  Each of us has our own problems, and salvation will look differently to each of us.   (Don’t get me wrong about doctrine: we need it, we come together around it…but to me doctrine is a home…not a prison.)

Be prepared to give an answer.  And be humble.   (Well, I’ve got a long way to go on this one…my humble bone has been a little out of joint lately.)

P (Prayer): Lord, humble me.  Amen.