As I sit writing this article, the television news channel is blaring on about the escalating violence in Libya and the renewed dissatisfaction in Egypt. The price of crude oil is about $115 a barrel and the economic futurists are sharpening their pencils in preparation for a series of doom-and-gloom articles. I change channels and what do I find? I find an American right wing ‘evangelist’ figuratively mounting one of four horses of the apocalypse! Daniel’s king of the South is advancing, the king of the West is about to intervene, and all hell is about to break loose on earth!
So here is my question. So what? So what if the so-called Libyan rebels disrupt the oil production and as a result the price per barrel breaks through $120 and continues to climb? So what if America fulfills Chavez’s cynical prediction, rushes in to secure its oil supplies and as a result China gets militant? Don’t get me wrong. These things would not be good for anyone and I don’t say ‘so what?’ as if they don’t matter. Rather, my question exposes the fundamental problem that ordinary folk like us have, and that is knowing how to respond to the things that are happening in our world; ‘so what are we supposed to do?”
If North Africa blazes in social unrest and the price of petrol, and consequently almost everything else, rises steeply… so what are we supposed to do about it? If indeed the TV evangelist is correct and we are witnessing the start of The Tribulation… so what are we supposed to do? Do we sell up everything and head for the hills? Do we accost everyone we meet with an escape-from-the-hell-to-come gospel? My answers are no, and no. We are supposed to be light to the world, not lamps in hiding. We are called to be disciple-makers, not harvesters of expediency driven ‘commitments’. So what then are we supposed to do?
I believe that the book of Hebrews gives us an answer to the ‘so what?’ question. Hebrews 10:19-25 reads; ‘Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another — and all the more as you see the Day approaching.’ So what should we do? We should draw near to God, hold to the hope we have, and encourage one another.
The most important thing in these times is to be close to Jesus. The imperative for this hour of human destiny is to spend time in fellowship with the only one who doesn’t change, who will not let us down, and whose secure friendship endures for all eternity.
The third thing we should do is to expend time and effort on the church fellowship. We need each other. We need to be encouraged and we need to encourage others. Negative, destructive scare-mongering is not the right response to our times; words of faith, hope and love are.
So what? So press in to God, give a witness of hope to the world, and encourage one another.