The Elders received this prayer request (really, a comment) a couple of weeks ago. I received permission to share it.
Something I think that needs to be discussed. (Big elephant in the middle of the room.) Last Days being ready spiritually and physically. We are in frightening times for most.
The person who shared this is rather new to Five Oaks so my first inclination was to say, "Actually, that's not a big issue around here. There's no elephant." But then I thought about (a) a couple of recent conversations with members and (b) how clueless I can be sometimes about what people are talking about.
So I addressed the issue head on in an email. This person wrote back and explained that she actually agreed with my take. Her concern was people she knows who are literally frightened about this, and she wishes our church would address it.
So here's a shorter and slightly edited version of what I wrote:
Thank you for your comment. We prayed for spiritual readiness for Christ’s return and for anyone who is living in fear.
I don’t presume to know what you intended by your comment, but I know there has been a flair up of end time speculation lately, thinking this is the time of Christ’s return. I hope those who are speculating are correct. When Christ returns we are that much closer to new creation of Revelation 21-22.
At Five Oaks we don’t speculate regarding the day of Christ’s arrival. And we respectfully disagree with the measures many are suggesting as regards physical preparation for a time of tribulation (whether it be storing food, water, or guns).
Our stance is that Jesus called the people of his day to be ready for his return, therefore that is part of what it means to be a disciple in our day, too.
According to the Bible, the last days began at Pentecost (Acts 2:17: 2 Timothy 3:1-9) and we have been in the last days since then. So we prepare for his return by doing his work and living his way. The best thing we can do for those who will face God’s judgment on the last day is to share the gospel with them now and live a loving, joyful, and winsome life. Mixing the gospel with an end time message or prediction only makes it less effective.
I have known people who sincerely believed the cataclysms of the very end would take place at a particular time, and they staked their reputations on it. When it didn't occur, they simply revised the date and predicted a new date with a equal certainty. But I guarantee you, not everyone they convinced adjusts that quickly. It's a good way of wrecking someone's faith and certainly their own witness to a lost world.
So as brother and sister in Christ I think we can both pray as did the early church, “come Lord Jesus."
Let me add a couple of thoughts I didn't put in that email but that I really wish these speculators could understand.
- When you speculate and share your speculations, you're in a no-win situation. If you're right and disaster strikes or Christ comes in the clouds, no one (absolutely no one) is going to think, "I should have listened to _____________ (insert your name here)." No one. And if that's what you want, check your motives. But even if they did think of you, their only thought will be, 'How can I get his food, water, and guns.'
- If you are wrong, you lost. And you did damage along the way. Most people think you're a little kooky predicting the apocalypse. No, not most people, almost every person you talk to. Seriously, if I absolutely knew when Christ was going to return and I set out to influence my unbelieving friends to follow Christ before he comes and it's too late, the LAST thing I would mention is that I know when he will return...if I really care about and love them. Why? Because I know that almost every one of them (no, every single person I personally know) would dismiss everything else I said.
- And the fact that what I just said makes perfect sense to everyone I know (except every hard core speculator I've shared it with) means I no longer brother to talk about it with prediction enthusiasts. I don't presume to know what drives this kind of speculation, but I know common sense, logic, and the Bible do not.