The following is the transcript from the March 13, 2016 service at Little Brown Church, Nashua, Iowa.
There are a lot of people who seem to agree that the world is going to end; they just don’t all agree on how it’s going to happen. I visited a website that reviewed several theories about how the world would end; among them:
1. Some believe an Asteroid will destroy the earth. Think of all the movies and stories about asteroids hitting the Earth!
2. Others are convinced a worldwide Pandemic (a deadly sickness) could spread rapidly throughout the whole world and annihilate mankind. What do you think made the Planet of the Apes movies so popular?
3. Others believe Solar Storms could destroy us.
4. Some believe in Global Warming. Temperatures will rise, food will become scarce, air quality will grow increasingly worse and diseases will spread.
5. Many believe a Nuclear War will be the end of us all.
6. But my personal favorite for how earth will be destroyed - Zombies.
Those are all fairly interesting theories… but they’re all wrong. In II Peter 3:10 God tells us the world will end, and He tells us HOW it’s going to end.
“The day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare….That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.”
Okay now that today’s sermon is over, we can cue the music, receive the offering and go have birthday pizza!
But I don’t think that is what Peter wants from us a as we read this passage. Peter wants us to think – and remember something. He wants us to think about the end of the world but what in the world for? I believe he wants us to focus less on the How and when and more on the who and why.
So I believe first, Peter is telling us to prepare. He says Jesus will come like a thief in the night. So how do we prepare?
1. Realize that potential threats are never as obvious as you think they’ll be. Unfortunately, in real life, ominous music does not play when the bad news comes. Things turn on a dime, one day your life is merrily, merrily, merrily chugging along and the next day you lose your job, your husband dies, or a gunman walks into your business and starts shooting up the place. Unfortunately, when it comes to large geo-political crises, there is a long time build-up and warning signs. But history shows we tend to ignore those warning too. We have a tendency to believe that life will continue to go on just as it always has in the recent past.
2. Preparation need not be paranoia. Now when you hear the word, preparation, what might come to mind is the word, “preppers” those extreme survivalists who have hoarded a few years of food, have and armory of weapons, and an underground bunker. But preparation doesn’t have to mean paranoia. We provide for old age by saving money in our 401k. We prepare again helplessness by buying insurance and investment for our future. We have fire departments, police, and hospitals and so on because preparation runs through every serious situation in our lives.
3. Preparation in one area can be deployed in other areas. Readiness shouldn’t be thought of just as a defensive stance, but an offensive one as well. You don’t prepare yourself only for emergencies, but also opportunities – which, by the way, are just as hard to see coming as threats! If you are not ready to seize and opportunity for growth the moment it arrives, it often never comes your way again. This is one of the reasons we have a National Guard, preparation to preserve the homeland is transferrable to war time.
4. Preparation is war! Part of why it’s hard to get psyched up for preparing for things that may or may not happen is that preparation just isn’t as much fun as being in the action! But don’t get me wrong, preparation is the battle. The interesting thing is that the more your practice and prepare, there comes a time where the preparation sometimes becomes more enjoyable than the experience.
5. Busyness is not the opposite of idleness. Plenty of people are idle in the obvious sense; in fact, they are quite busy with jobs, kids, school, etc. They may even feel overextended and tired from all they have to handle. Yet despite all this activity, they still feel restless, depressed and stagnant. That is because certain aspects of their character are overtaxed while others go underutilized. Just because you are busy doesn’t mean you aren’t idle.
6. Keep moving; whatever you don’t use, you lose. We often fell like we can leave parts of ourselves dormant and they will just stay as they are – waiting for us to start developing them again. But the truth is that all the components of our physical and mental, and spiritual make-up operate by the “use it or lose it” principle. All of life involves swimming against the current of deterioration – if you are not putting in the effort to advance, you are getting swept back. Or as coaches and music teachers tell their charges, “If you are not getting better today, you are getting worse.”
7. Duty over self. Think about being a Secret Service agent. Over the last several years the Secret Service has taken a few hits for more than their share of embarrassing moments to include: two drunk senior agents crashing into the gates of the White House, hiring “party girls” while on duty in Columbia, getting drunk and who can forget allowing a knife wielding man to jump the fence and make it all the way to the back door of the White House. But their job is the pinnacle of maintaining readiness in the face of boredom and seeming safety. 99.9% of the time, nothing is going to happen, and yet you have to be prepared for the .1%. You can’t legislate this kind of vigilance, you have to develop and work on the discipline, knowing you have a job to do and doing it.
But just as important as these items are there is yet one more that needs to be discussed. We need to be “looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.” II Pet. 3:13
We need to be bringing the Kingdom of God into the world today, not just looking forward to a heavenly home tomorrow. And the people who are working hard at developing the fruit in their lives know what that means.
That fruit is expressed in the efforts to:
• Show LOVE to other people not just other Christians
• Those who create an atmosphere of JOY in the church
• They promote PEACE between Christian brothers and sisters
• Be PATIENT with folks who are difficult
• They are KIND to those who struggle
• Be GOOD to people in need
• They are FAITHFUL to God and His church
• Be GENTLE with those whose faith is fragile
• And those who attempt to exercise SELF-CONTROL, when it would be easier to lose control
These are the ones who can look forward to the new heaven and new earth because that’s where righteousness dwells. The fruit of the Spirit is what preparation looks likes in this world today.