Set Your Hope

Posted: June 17, 2011 in america, atheism, blogs, christianity, current events, eschatalogy, false teaching, Jesus

Article originally published on June 15, 2011 at Thrive80.com.

Recently, the world looked on as one man, claiming to speak on behalf of the God of the Bible, boldly declared that Jesus was returning to the earth at 6pm on May 21.  On billboards and buses, talk shows and t-shirts, Harold Camping and his followers unambiguously insisted that the end of the world had indeed come upon us.

Well, 6pm on May 21 has come and gone, and everyone is still here.  The Son of God did not come back (notwithstanding Camping’s claims to the contrary).  However, the fallout from this false prophet’s failed prediction has proven to be very large indeed.

It was interesting to see the response of Christians from all over the world to this unbiblical prophecy: almost universally, it was rejected and held in contempt.  And so it should be.  However, my concern is that in reacting to Harold Camping, we have forgotten, or at least neglected, an essential truth of our faith – namely, that Jesus is indeed returning!  He will gather together His church!  He will judge the world, in righteousness and power!  And He will establish His eternal Kingdom!

A lot could be said about Camping, but one thing is sure: he and his followers said they believed that Jesus was returning on May 21, and their actions matched their words.  They sold their possessions, quit their jobs, went on the news, got out on the street, unashamed of the “truth” they were declaring.  They warned people: “The end is coming!  You will stand before the Holy God and have to give an account!  Are you ready?”  Simply put, they lived like they believed Jesus was coming back.

But could the same be said of us?

We don’t claim to know the day or time, but we do claim to know that Jesus is returning.  But do our lives reflect that belief?  Do our lives bear witness to the fact that we are, in the words of Hebrews, “eagerly waiting for [Jesus]”?

Perhaps more sad than this false prophet and his false prophecy, with all the damage that he has done to Christ’s church, is the fact that the true church so often neglects to live like it really believes Jesus is returning.  This is the most grievous, witness-wrecking sin.

However, the tendency to neglect the reality that Jesus is indeed returning is a struggle for all who confess Christ as their Savior and King.  Peter recognized then when he penned his first epistle:

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13, ESV)

Peter understood that his readers were struggling to hope in Christ and His return.  And Peter’s exhortation to them was that they prepare their minds and be sober in their thinking.  In other words, he encouraged them to think rightly about Jesus that they might hope fully in Jesus.  We must realize that anchoring our hope in the return of Christ takes diligent effort, for we are quick to forget, prone to wander, and easily distracted.

This right thinking is necessary because our hope in Christ is easily lost.  It seems that we face two potential “hope-killers” in life.  The first is trials that have the tendency to obscure our hope, blinding us with pain, sorrow, and loss.  The second is blessings that have the potential to steal our hope, distracting us from the ultimate joy and blessing we have in Christ.  The answer to each of these dangers is preparing our minds and being sober in our thinking.

Let the words of Scripture, and the antics of Harold Camping, serve as a reminder to us: the divine Son of God, Jesus of Nazareth, born of a virgin, crucified at the hands of sinful men and raised to new life by the power of God, now ascended to the right hand of the Father, forever interceding for the saints – yes, this Jesus is indeed coming back, to glorify the saints and establish His eternal kingdom.

Have you set your hope?

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