Yogi Berra noted, “The future ain’t what it used to be.”
Baseball Prospectus picked the Kansas City Royals to win seventy-two games this year; now they’re World Series champions. Amazon made its reputation with online book sales; now they’re opening a physical store in a Seattle mall. Justin Bieber’s image was once wholesome and clean; now he has completed probation for pelting his neighbor’s house with eggs in January 2014.
John Paul II was right: “The future starts today, not tomorrow.”
We are seeking to fulfill our Kingdom assignment most effectively, learning how to understand those we are called to serve, engaging them courageously and strategically, and demonstrating God’s joy even in hard places.
Today, in an unpredictable world, let’s consider the urgency of urgency.
Paul visited the Greek city of Thessalonica as part of his second missionary journey. There he reasoned with the Jews he found from the Scriptures (Acts 17:2). Some were persuaded, as were “a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women” (v. 4). However, the jealous religious authorities formed a mob that ran Paul out of town (vs. 5-10). From there, Paul made his way to the town of Berea, and on to Athens, Corinth, and beyond.
But he would quickly write back to the infant congregation he was forced to leave. Not surprisingly, one of their first questions was one of our perennial issues: when will Jesus return? They had come to expect his imminent appearance, but now some of their number had died. What would happen to them? What would the future hold?
Paul responded with one of the central texts in Scripture regarding the future: “The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).
Our purpose today is not to debate the various theological theories built upon these verses. Rather, it is to note the urgency Paul conveys. Jesus is coming back, and no one knows when. Thus everyone must be ready, today. We are one day closer to eternity than ever before.
This fact makes our Kingdom work more urgent than we may know. The next person you meet will spend eternity either with God or separated from him. (Tweet this) You only have this day to share the love and grace of God with those you influence. While we should not live with frantic turmoil, we should live with earnest commitment.
Jonathan Edwards began every day with the resolution that he would live as he would wish to live if he knew the Lord would appear that day. Many missionaries have been motivated by the fact that they could be forced to leave their assigned fields at any time.
A year before he was killed, Martin Luther King, Jr. preached on the “fierce urgency of now.” He warned his hearers, “If we do not act we shall surely be dragged down the long dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.”
Will you live in the “fierce urgency of now,” today?