On the horizon lay perilous times. Jesus Himself said of this time, “There will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equalled again.” In this, He was quoting the prophet Daniel. In Daniel 12:1 we read, “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people – everyone whose name is written in the book – will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” The close of this age is resurrection. That final time of great distress, unequalled to any other time in history, consummates via the return of Christ and the resurrection of the dead.
I’ve been reading some of my old material, things I’ve written anywhere from a year to 3 years ago. As I’ve been reading, I’ve been stirred to share again some of what was on my heart. Of two evils, choose neither.
You see, there are some who are prepping for the end times. They buy guns, they stockpile, they search for ways to lock up their homes to hunker down, and they hope to be able to ride out the storm when it gets bad. Others choose to believe that we’ll be “raptured” out, and therefore will not endure such hardship. Here is what stirred me: the two trees in the Garden of Eden. There is the tree of life, which would have caused Adam to live forever, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We can see in 1 Corinthians 15:42-44 that the tree of life would have brought about Adam’s resurrection. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil brought about his death.
Here lies the symbology of the two trees. The tree of life is a selfless tree. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is a selfish tree. The tree of life is represented in a cross, that we deny self and lose life in order to find self and obtain life. We take of its fruit, knowing it is death, in hopes that the seeds will grow and blossom into eternal life – resurrection. The other tree, the selfish tree, looks out for number one. It hopes upon hope for self-preservation. Everything is centered around not losing life, not sacrificing, being promoted, and ultimately around gratification.
When I look at the various models of how people react to the end times, I am left with a sour taste in my brain. Whether it is escapism of the rapture folk, or whether it is self-preservation of the bunker people, of two evils, choose neither. From where do we determine our understanding? And from where do we determine our lifestyle? What we believe of the end affects our present lifestyle. It will either affect it negatively or positively.
Beyond the end times, we find debates of Calvinism or Arminianism. We find debates of evolution or creation. We find debates over homosexuality. We find debates over the millennials leaving church. There are all these things that people focus upon, but they never seem to bring fruitful change. Even when people aren’t debating, I still find the writings of many to be rather shallow. In one sense we are all at various places in our walks. In another sense when everything that is being written about and communicated revolves around self, even your relationship with God, how beneficial is it? When all of the worship songs revolve around how much God loves you, how “worshipful” is it? Who exactly are you talking about, and who exactly are you worshiping?
Out of two evils, choose neither. Stop worshiping yourself, and stop worshiping the debate. You’ve got to serve somebody. Either you will serve the devil, or you will serve the Lord. To have everything in life revolve around self is to worship Satan, the one who has been prideful from the beginning. Examine yourself. As I read some of my old material, I realize that I need to examine myself as well. The truth is that I find myself thinking often about myself rather than the beauty of Christ. I often find myself staggered at the psalmist’s words. They are so captivated with God, and here I am struggling to put two sentences together in adoration of my Father.
To those who are co-laborers and strugglers, I hope this is exhortation. To those who are not struggling with these things, but find that you are able to focus upon Christ, and to know only Christ and Him crucified, I truly desire that you might give me some advice. What is it that has helped you to be crucified to self, so that it is no longer you that live but Christ that lives in you?