Many say that we are living in the end times. However, not a lot of Christians know what that meant. In my limited Christian social circle, I can hardly sense a hint of concern for the end times and the realization of biblical prophecies. Heck, many do not even care about Israel’s independence and its significance, how else will they care about the rise of the global order, the anti-christ, and other significant signs that we are called to look out for ?
“Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” — Matthew 24:44, ESV.
I honestly believe that God wants us all to be prepared for the coming of the end. Though we do not know when the day will be (ref: Matthew 24:42), we need to stay awake and be ready for the coming of our Lord. We need to be ready to embrace the coming of the end. It is only with the realization that the end is near will we be able to shape our priorities and structure our lives accordingly.
So, I think it is only appropriate to offer some practical steps for us to work on so as to get ourselves updated on current affairs and to ready ourselves for the Lord.
Step 1: Know the Signs
“See, I have told you beforehand. So, if they say to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out. If they say, ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe it. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.” — Matthew 24:25-26, 28, ESV.
Before knowing what to do, we will need to know what is to come. Knowing what is to come will shape our understanding of the world and the possibilities of what may happen in the future. Knowing what is to come will help us identify what we can do or what we cannot do. It shapes the approach we choose to do certain things and help us visualize the boundaries of our capacity. Christ has told us the things that will happen beforehand so that we may be mentally prepared. We will be able to be “sent out as sheep in the midst of wolves”. Knowing the signs will help us be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” in the face of persecution and potential troubles (Matthew 10:16, ESV).
Step 2: Know Our Gifts and Resources
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” — 1 Peter 4:10, ESV.
Whether you accept it or not, everyone has a gift; a talent. We will need to identify them so that we may serve each other as good stewards of God. For some, this gift may be in the form of business management. For others, this may be teaching. The diversity of gifts are so wide that it may cover aspects of interpersonal relationships that we will never be able to imagine. I know of this girl with a gift that allows little children to come to her without fear. Children gather around her to hug and to kiss her. Within my limited social circle, I can identify no one else who can provide such love and comfort for needy children. Now, she knew that this is a gift and she fully utilized it, helping many broken families reconcile and get back on their feet just by hugging little children.
Step 3: Recognise where we are with reference to Biblical prophecies
“Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” — Matthew 25:13, ESV.
Once you know the signs, we must keep ourselves updated on current affairs. What are the nations doing? What are the government doing? How is the global order controlling the global leadership? How’s the global economic outlook like? Where are the needy? Which part of the world has the greatest gospel need? Do we know what must happen before the end? How many of the things Jesus mentioned has already happened or is now happening?
“Jesus answered them, ‘See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name… You will hear of wars and rumors of wars… Nations will rise against nations… There will be famines and earthquakes… They will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death… You will be hated… Many will fall away and betray one another… False prophets will arise… Lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold… The gospel of the Kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world… And then the end will come.” — Matthew 24:4-14, ESV.
Step 4: Recognise Needs and Draft Out an Action Plan
“The mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Of this gospel, I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of His power.”
“I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.” — Ephesians 3:5-6, Romans 1:13-15, ESV.
Paul knew the needs of the region at the time. He knew that He had to be clear that the Gospel is not only for the Jews but also to the Gentiles. He needed it to sink into everyone that the Gospel is for all. So he planned his journeys with that in mind and spread the gospel accordingly. Paul knew the gospel, the needs of his time, and the role he should play to achieve what he was called to do. Likewise, we must know the scripture. We must know what is to come, what is currently happening, and what God wants us to do given our gifts and our burden in life.
What is this mystery of God that we need to preach? Where are we in history? What are some of the gifts God has given to us? What must be achieved in order to bring out the best in this part of history so as to expedite God’s coming?
“Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” — 2 Peter 3:11-13, ESV.
Step 5: Centre Life’s Purpose around the Calling.
“To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.” — Ephesians 3:8-10, ESV.
It was the grace of God that God called Paul to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ. Paul, with all his educational background and societal status, wrote that he was the least of all the saints. What more us, who have enjoyed the grace of God all the days of our lives in comfort. We too are able to bring light for everyone the plan of the mystery that is hidden for ages in God.
This requires wisdom and insight into what the scripture teaches and the current state of the world in which we live in. I think, after familiarising ourselves with the gospel of Christ and the signs of the last days, we need to pray for the Holy Spirit’s to give us the insight to see what God sees. We need to identify God’s hands at work in the world we live in and to match the pieces of the puzzle together so that we may be the “watchman for the house of Israel”, warning people about the works of God whenever we hear a word from Him (paraphrased; Ezekiel 3:17).
Of course, as “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14, ESV), we must allow God to personally watch over His city. Because, “unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain” (Psalms 127:1, ESV). And I think that’s our calling and life’s purpose; regardless of gifts. We all have a significant part to play in the end times and the Bible has given us sufficient guidance to navigate through troubled waters. Now, it is up to us to come to God and He will give us rest (paraphrased; Matthew 11:28).
 — “So also, when you see all these things, you know that He is near, at the very gates.” — Matthew 24:33, ESV.