The day approaching
As history winds down, it’s time to face the redemption calendar head-on
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A church asked me to speak at its women’s retreat and told me I could choose the topic. I said great, let’s talk about the Second Coming. Specifically (quoting myself):
“Everybody you meet senses that something is terribly wrong in the world and that we are coming to the end. Jesus’ return is the next big thing on redemption history’s calendar. Let’s look at what the Old and New Testaments say about it so that we won’t be taken by surprise. We ‘see the day approaching’ (Hebrews 10:25), and are to be ‘looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ’ (Titus 2:13).”
She emailed back that the topic was “too heavy.”
OK, I’m glad this came up. It’s high time the question be faced head-on: What should I be writing about in “such a time as this,” as Mordecai would say (Esther 4:14)? Mordecai knew the times he was in, and we commend him. The tribe of Issachar were “men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do” (1 Chronicles 12:32). Jesus rebuked men who “do not know how to interpret the present time” (Luke 12:56). We’re not talking dates (Mark 13:32), but a recognition that the fig tree is in leaf (Luke 21:29-31).
Every two weeks when a new column is due I go through the same philosophical wrangling: Do I write about “heavy” things that bode the approach of the Day? Or is my job to give the reader a break from the news? Am I an interlude, comic relief, the lackadaisical second movement of a Beethoven symphony? Do I only do “lite” columns? Or is doing only lite at such a time as this a betrayal, a polishing of doorknobs on a sinking ship?
Some of our stock subjects are abortion, the gay agenda, family, violence, feminism; and on the positive side, the thousand points of light of Christian ministries. All good stuff, and there are an infinite number of angles from which to come at these, and repackage them with updated examples and more clever analogies. The bad trends are all worsening. Which is kind of my point: In thinking about these topics, we shouldn’t forget that they are reminders of “the day approaching.”
Once when I was whining at length to a Christian friend about some peeve or other, he finally broke in and said, “Hey Andrée, you got a Bible?” “Yeah.” “Turn to Philippians 4:13.” “OK.” “You got some Wite-Out?” “… Yeah.” “Why don’t you white it out, you’re not using it anyway.” Gulp.
If we won’t touch Revelation or other prophecies with a 10-foot pole, then why don’t we go all the way and take scissors to it? It won’t go well for us, of course, since God blesses those who attend to these portions of His Word (Revelation 1:3). You don’t want to endure the following exchange someday: “Son, why did you never bother with Revelation?” “Only fanatics did that, Lord.” “Seriously?”
So this is what I wrestle with. The retreat organizer suggested a nice series of talks on women in the Bible. Been there, done that. All my retreat audiences know that Deborah, Ruth, and Esther were brave.
In many churches one detects a deadening quest for safety in preaching that manifests in repetitive and predictable sermons on matters already generally agreed on, sermons that feel crafted more by committee than conviction of the Holy Spirit. I know a woman who works with foreign students in the seminary. She said the African students remarked to her, “The sermons in America are nice, but they always stop just when they’re coming to the powerful part—as if the pastor is afraid of the congregation.” (Words to that effect.)
The author of Hebrews (5:14-6:2) was frustrated at laying the same groundwork over and over again and was impatient to move on to meatier subjects.
We will need the meat and not just milk before too long.
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