August 2022 | Light of the World

Our Endgame for the End Times
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Our Endgame for the End Times

Dr. Samson Gandhi

This is not an article on end-times. I would rather prepare for the end times than write articles on it. Many have predicted end times in the wake of Covid 19. Such predictions come and go so don’t be carried away by such trigger happy prophesies. However, the truth is we are 2000 years closer to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ! It has been, and more so now the time to be ready, fully prepared like the wise virgins with a good amount of oil to give light and it must last till the coming of Christ.

If there was one person who would have the last word or should I say the first word as well on the coming of Christ, it would be Peter. He tried to know every aspect of the coming kingdom and get as much first-hand information as possible from Jesus (Matthew 24). And see what Peter has to say we must do in the last days:

“The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he must do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen” (1 Peter 4:7-11).

We have a fascination of the hidden and therefore unknown future. The second coming of the Lord is hidden and nobody can predict the exact time of His coming. Even Jesus accepted the fact that the triune God had decided to keep that piece of  information with God the Father. We don’t accept it and still try to play the self-appointed prophet, theological detective and scientist to declare the coming of the Lord. Many tried to but failed miserably and inflicting untold misery on many. Discussing about the second coming gives us a feeling of being engaged in spiritual pursuit but it is actually nothing more than spiritual curiosity.

Covid 19 perhaps is another reminder that the coming of the Lord is sooner than later. As Peter says, “The end of all things is near. Therefore, In the light of this fact and imperative, our renewed life or in the words of computer literate, our ‘reset’ and ‘refreshed’ lives post Covid 19 must have these two personal qualities and four priorities in our behaviours”. Let’s look at the two personal qualities.

Be Clear Minded

Not clouded or cluttered but focussed. When a man is rested he wakes with a clear mind. We must learn to be rested in the Lord (Matthew 11:28). Today,  many are tired and therefore not clear-minded. People in ministry are tired of doing ministry. Those who are in so called secular jobs are tired in their jobs and ministry. Some are sorely tired because of the worldly pursuits and they are pulled in so many directions. When we hear the voice of our Shepherd and do His bidding – nothing less and nothing more – we will be rested. When we are rested we will be clear minded. Resist the temptation of being involved in too many things and achieving great success.

There are hardly any who are not affected by Covid 19. Some are affected financially, some with sickness and others emotionally. It is a tough time. Accept it, take stock of how it is affecting you, make suitable changes and walk through it with the Lord. He will see you through. He will protect you from the storm or protect you in the storm. But don’t expect a life without storms.

Hold Your Horses

Be self-controlled. One of the nine fruit of the Spirit is self-control. For some it is needed to keep oneself from bad. We need the ability to keep the self in control at times when we are tempted – to eat more and become lazy, watch porn and pollute the mind and spirit, desire things and begin to covet. When we abide in Christ we draw our sustenance from the Lord. We bear the fruit of the Spirit and one of the fruit is self-control. 

During Covid 19, we are fascinated with circles and squares at market places. We are asked to remain in those spaces to be safe and to be served. If we are to be safe and be served and also be able to serve spiritually we must be in Christ. Spiritual loitering in this church today, another fellowship tomorrow and a music band the day after never helped in abiding in Christ. You do not chase a spiritual fruit, you receive it as a natural consequence to being in obedience to Christ.

The urgency of the above two qualities becomes acute in the light of the immanence of coming Christ. These two qualities also put us in a good position to prioritise and practice the four behaviours prescribed by Peter.

All-important move in the end game of the end times. But before we look at the four behaviours, we need to build a spiritual eco system for them to thrive. And that is prayer. If you look at the passage again, this time in New International Version, Peter is saying, “The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.” Pray. How often we fail to concentrate in our prayers?! How often we come before God not knowing how to pray?! How often we are confused that our mind is in a flux and we do not know how to pray?! Therefore, we must have our mind cleansed by the Holy Spirit; informed by the word of God. Prayer precedes action. Just like a carpenter sits down and sharpens his tools before he starts his craft, we must retreat and pray before we perform. Otherwise it will be an exercise in frustration, and our work a mess. Pray that we are able to cultivate our four behaviours. What are they?

Fervent love  Love deeply. A passionate, intense love. It is used of people involved in revolutions. They so believe in their cause and are invested in it that they are ready to give their lives. The love Peter is talking about is precisely that love. He was so passionately in love with His Master that he cut of the ear of the solider in the Garden of Gethsemane. He needed to understand that cutting off ears was not the expression of love that Jesus came to show but a forgiving love when he experienced first-hand how he was forgive for denying Jesus. Forgiving love is the need of the hour. If necessary to lay down our lives like Peter.

Perhaps, it comes easy to feed the migrant labourers than forgiving our near and dear. May be it is easier to give salary to our helpers for the lock down period. These are necessary but they come later, as we will see. It may not be easy to most of us to forgive others. It is a sin-covering love. In the ‘last days’ we must release love on earth so that love can be released in heaven. This way many in these last days will be redeemed. This release of love is necessary to save us and others – as many as we could forgive. The very purpose of Jesus’ coming is to forgive our sins and save us. That’s what His name means. Let us fervently love by forgiving and live up to his name that we bear.

Be hospitable to one another without grumbling. Hospitality is not just about food and shelter. It actually demands a level of transparency and vulnerability. One believer is expected to be hospitable to another. We are also called to provide hospitality to strangers (Hebrews 13:2). A scary prospect today. Nevertheless, scripture must be fulfilled.

Just as in the times of persecution, we will now be facing persecution and we must practice the spiritual tradition of offering hospitality. Lot of things happen when hospitality is given and received. Let us see two examples. Jesus invited himself to the home of Zacchaeus the Tax collector.  Salvation came to that house. Jesus was persuaded by Cleopas and his companion to refreshment and meal. They both were restored to the kingdom work. There will be people in need of restoration. Hospitality does the trick. But let us see Jesus. He was open about where he was and welcomed everyone. Even after resurrection, Jesus prepared breakfast and invited his disciples to have it. 

Today, lakhs of migrant labourers are without food and shelter. They are relentlessly moving towards a home that they can go to. Is there a kairos moment for us here? God-appointed . . . opportune time to make it count for those in search of salvation. I am reminded of the parable of the Great Banquet. The feast of the Lord is prepared. An invitation has gone. But many in the church and outside are ignoring it. Perhaps, we must take heed that we are not in that number. But there is an opportunity too. God is asking us to literally go out into the world – I mean roads and highways where the migrant labourers are and other ignored and rejected. Give them home and hospitality. 

During this Covid 19 pandemic it is a greater challenge. Perhaps the risks are higher. But the stakes are higher too. The kingdom of God is at stake. Can we open our homes and make the word of God in this parable come alive? God may open the eyes of the guests to see salvation and Jesus.

Serve one another with the gifts you have received. We don’t have to worry about the talents and gifts that we do not have. Our duty is to discover the spiritual gift given to us, cultivate it and serve others with it. Otherwise we are in danger of inviting the wrath of the Master as did the third servant in the parable of the talents that Jesus shared in the context of end times (Matthew 24:3; 25:14-30). There is a difference in holding the gifts of the Spirit as a steward and one who believe he has earned it, so entitled to it. No, no one can say that he has earned the spiritual gifts he possesses. For Paul clearly states that they are given by the sovereign will of God purely on the basis of grace and not on merit (Ephesians 4:7,8). Therefore, as stewards, as those who hold precious possessions of the Master in good faith to do what pleases him, we must serve other with them. Play your part. The plan and execution is coming to fulfilment.

It is a pity that more than eighty percent of the believers (my informed guess) do not have an understanding of the spiritual gifts and much less know what spiritual gifts they possess. Therefore, the sad situation of impoverished fellowship of believers. No, it cannot be like that in the last days. Get to know that it has been the good pleasure of the Father to give us spiritual gifts and it is our duty to find them and use them in the kingdom of God. It may be doing the dishes at the sink or performing miracles by faith. Whatever they are exercise them. These are the last days.

If anyone speaks . . . In today’s church speaking is regarded as a great thing. But if you see the beginning of this verse it starts with a conjunction ‘if’. I believe, in these last days what is expected of us is action, not speaking. There are many talkers and few doers. WhatsApp University is full of them. They have a feeling that they are changing the world but in truth they are incapable of changing their sitting posture. Someone said that we are given two ears to listen and one mouth to speak so that we will listen twice as much as we speak. But I says to you that we have been given four limbs to do four times of what we speak and do at double the speed of what we hear.

So on those rare occasions when we are compelled to speak or motivated to speak or sure that we have something to say, then Peter is saying that we must speak as if they are oracles of God. Speak what we have heard in the presence of God. What you have heard from the Lord is attested by the word of God. There is no room for gossip, hearsay or opinions but solid truths. There is no need for endless arguments about pre or post tribulation rapture. It rarely matters for a person who is hungry whether sweet is served before, during or after the main course. 

Lastly, do all the above with a view to glorify God. Let us not be glory stealers as all glory belongs to Jesus Christ. There is a lot to do. Not discuss, argue or debate. Last days are last chances.

Is your lantern lit? A  railway guard stationed was stationed near a bridge to warn incoming trains if the bridge was safe to go over it. On a pitch dark stormy night the guard felt it was not safe and went on to the tracks and waved his lantern to stop the train. But the train, to his horror kept on going and the tragedy of the crash was great. Investigation revealed that although the guard was waving the lantern, it was not lit. You may be waving the lantern but is it lit?    

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