What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.
When I was young, I would read the Bible and wonder how it applied to me. The stories were interesting, even exciting, but they didn’t seem to connect with where I was living. The things the Bible talked about seemed to come from another world. I don’t think that way anymore. More and more, the things the Bible talks about are being acted out in this present world. I am experiencing the scriptures in real time.
Many of the recent events we have experienced could have been taken right out of the pages of the Bible. The recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage reflects the moral and spiritual decay that Paul wrote about on Romans 1.
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator--who is forever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.
Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. Romans 1:18-32
A number of years ago, I was involved in a debate with an atheist that took place at MSU. This passage came up in the midst of the debate, and my opponent mocked it. “That is not the world I live in.” Yet, Paul describes exactly the world in which we all live.
The recent natural disasters we have witnessed point us back to the book of Revelation. It is hard not to see the things Revelation talks about coming true before our eyes. We are living the scriptures in real time. The question before us is, how do we respond to our times?
Jesus was clear about our posture in the face of unfolding history; be alert, be prepared and be ready. In Matthew 24, Jesus gives us some insights into His return and what we should do to prepare.
"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.
First, He tells us that no one knows the time when the Son will return, so we can dispense with our elaborate schemes to set a date. Second, we should be alert to the signs of the times. Although we cannot know when Christ will return, we need to be alert to what is going on around us. Third, Jesus tells us to be busy doing what He has called us to do. The very best way to be ready for Christ’s return is to actively serve Him, using whatever gifts He has given to us, for His glory.
As the days get darker, we may be tempted to withdraw into our relatively safe enclaves. This is the very thing we cannot do. We have been called to be salt in a decaying world and light in a dark world. We are needed more than ever in the public forum. We may not be able to change the world, but we can make a difference for eternity for one other person. It is by sharing the love of Christ, which we have experienced, with others, that we can make a significant difference in our world.
Paul lived in very difficult times, yet he didn’t give in to bitterness, fear, or anger. Instead, he faithfully shared the good news about Jesus. His advice to us is to take the high road; endure hardship, love others, and glorify God.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.