Take a good look around you. This world is quickly unraveling.
The birth pains of terminal times are upon us (Matt. 24:6-8; Luke 21:9-11), and you’re blind if you don’t see it. Adverse weather patterns, earthquakes, and environmental calamities of escalating frequency and consequence are resulting in greater loss of life, economy, and property than ever before.
The 2021 Global Report on Food Crises shows that 155 million people in 55 countries faced acute hunger in 2020, up 20 million from the year before. Famines and malnutrition are mounting as droughts impact the fragility of the global food system, and as poverty skyrockets.
The problems of racial division have sharply surged in conformity to Jesus’ warning that “nation will rise against nation.” The Greek word for ‘nation’ is ‘ethnos.’ We get our word “ethnicity” from it – and in our times, nearly everything is branded ‘racist’ even if racism has got nothing to do with it.
There is no shortage of countries (‘kingdoms’) threatening war with other countries. It’s true in every part of the world. Every day, there’s a palpable expectation that a major conflict will erupt in the Middle East and redefine that region.
Then there is the viral pandemic. The truth about it is actively suppressed. Coercion to take a highly suspect and problematic ‘vaccine,’ and the threat of a loss of liberties for anyone who elects not to take it, shows the leading edge of a deceptive agenda that will ultimately express itself in the future Mark of the Beast (Rev. 13:15-17; 14:9).
Other serious problems are mounting too. There is escalating animosity in many places towards the Jews and Israel. The Jewish nation is routinely blamed for problems they are not responsible for. Anti-Semitism is on the rise in colleges where you’d expect it to be, and in churches where you’d not expect it to be.
Global economics have never been more fragile. The number of companies that have gone belly up is only exceeded in number by those who are about to.
In America, our illegitimate and corrupt leadership has pushed policies that have resulted in record inflation. They’ve made us dependent on nations that don’t like us for basic goods and energy resources. Supply chains are so mismanaged that our ports look like naval mosh pits.
Christians are also being attacked as never before. According to a Forbes Magazine article from January 2021, one in eight Christians live in countries where “….they might suffer very high or extreme levels of persecution,” and this situation is worsening daily.
Truth is being ‘thrown to the ground’ even at the same time as ‘deception is prospering.’ A few decades ago, our politicians were in hot water if they told a lie. Now they are in hot water if they tell the truth. Stating the facts on most social media platforms will get you flagged, censored, and shut down. Hordes of senseless lemmings today no longer want the truth about voters, viruses, and values.
I could say so much more, but my original point is clear. This world is a complete mess.
As a believer in Jesus Christ, I have a couple of thoughts that are top of mind. The first is, “Hang in there. Everything we see here is just the start. If we are still on this planet in a few years, 2021 will look like “the good ol’ days.”
It takes conscious effort to look back at the start of 2020 and realize how wonderful things were then. A switch was flipped in early February that year – my spirit sensed the change as though someone spoke. Others I visited with felt the same thing. The snowball of bad news has since gathered speed and force as it’s rolled downhill. Depravity is in overdrive.
Jesus said in Matthew 24:8 that these socio-political upheavals, natural disasters, persecutions, deceptions, lawlessness, and catastrophes would be “the beginning of sorrows.” In context, “the beginning of sorrows” is likely a commentary on the initial phases of The Tribulation. This is a well-defined period of seven years, also called the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7) or ‘Daniel’s 70th Week’ (Dan. 9:24-27). It’s a future time when God’s primary focus is redeeming a remnant of the Jewish people.
These implications don’t exclude the rest of us from contemplating present events as “birth pains” in their own right – and I said as much at the start of this article. But – it’s important to understand that things happening right now are the earliest dynamics of what will eventually become “the beginning of sorrows.”
My second thought may jolt some of you, but it needs to be plainly stated: “Shame on the church!”
The church, for the most part, is out of touch. It’s not doing its job. Most people IN the church – and BECAUSE of the church – have very little idea what is really going on in the world right now. They’re asking tons of questions, but they’re receiving precious little in the way of substantive answers.
Paul responded forthrightly to the Thessalonians about their fears that they were living in the day of the Lord (2 Thess. 2:1-2). Folks today have the same concerns. Paul counseled and edified his congregants with wisdom. He provided detailed teaching on the Rapture, the Tribulation, the antichrist, and the resurrection of the dead – and in the process, he underscored that a strong foundation in Biblical prophecy is integral to every healthy church.
Most pastors and teachers today could not do any of what Paul did. Many instead mock the themes, the doctrines, and the importance of the prophetic Scriptures (2 Peter 3:1). They defend their own milky messages – tactics that only reinforce the things they most want to believe about themselves.
Every Sunday, thousands of pastors preach “sermonettes,” which do little more than produce “Christianettes.” Numerous studies show that the spiritual vital signs of congregants everywhere are suffering as they are routinely scratched where they itch (2 Tim. 4:3).
Most churches today have made the good the enemy of the best. Too many of them emphasize worship, encouragement, neighborly love, growing in community, and the various themes of a social gospel. Because churches want everybody to feel good and get along, they steer clear of ‘sensitive’ topics and confrontational truth. The Bible is frequently treated as little more than a footnote to a sermon.
The events of the last year or so have shown us that most church leaders are shallow. They feel self-righteous for marching to the beat of woke ambitions and for pushing the points of a deceptive globalist agenda. They rally their congregants with strident appeals for “unity” when “conformity” is what they are pushing for instead.
The sheep are suffering as their ‘shepherds’ fail to see the dilemma they are personally cultivating. Churches everywhere have lost grasp of what it means to properly look in a mirror (Rev. 3:15-18). They cannot see their own condition, and they assert instead that they’re doing fine.
We’re in a tight spot. Our national leaders are high-fiving themselves for every step they take away from virtue, and our church leaders are patting themselves on the back for every step they take towards apostasy. The first group cares little for the truth about responsibility, and the second group cares little about responsibly telling the truth.
I cannot rest silently when I see so many within the church spouting off their errant views of Scripture, interpreting world events by the world’s talking points, pursuing goals to grow budgets and pack pews, and justifying a seeker-friendly agenda the Bible never prescribed for them in the first place. I realize I am not alone in trying to call attention to some of these improper things, and I KNOW I am not alone in receiving the vitriol I do when I do so.
When Jude wrote his little book, he confessed he wanted to write “about the salvation we share” (Jude 3). Basically, he wanted to write about the Gospel. That’s an all-important matter. But – he was divinely inspired to go a different direction, and so he called attention to the urgent problem of false teachers instead.
The rest of Jude puts the spotlight on these leaders who are unworthy of the posts they hold. They are charlatans who “have secretly slipped in” (vs. 4), who “slander whatever they do not understand” (vs. 10), who have “rushed for profit” (vs. 11), who are “shepherds who feed only themselves” (vs. 12), who “boast about themselves” (vs. 16), who “scoff” at the truth (vs. 18), who “divide” their congregations (vs. 19), and who follow worldly and “natural instincts” (vs. 19).
Jude’s words read like a commentary on the modern church – maybe even the one you’re part of right now. Many pastors and teachers would do well to prayerfully and humbly study what Jude wrote and why he did.
Meantime, and as long as it continues to be a passive ally to the world’s agenda – – shame on the church!