The end is not yet.
How do we know this?
“And the gospel must be proclaimed to all nations.” Mark 13:10
In the midst of His discourse on the end of time, Jesus adds these words of assurance and missional focus. It’s as if he’s saying, “Things will get bad. Really bad. But the mission of the disciples never changes, and ultimately, will never be stopped.”
No a pestilence or famine, war or wave of persecution, ever has and never can stop the church from her mission of gospel globalization for the glory of Christ.
Have you perhaps forgotten this during this time of uncertainty and unrest? I wouldn’t blame you. We’re human. The media is continuing to pump out articles and videos that span the spectrum from panic and pandemonium, to reasonable facts and practical precautions. But one thing they will never mention is the ultimate mission you and I, as Christians, must maintain. For that, the Christian must look to Jesus and His word.
So, is the end here? I don’t think so. But I’m not God. And seeing that the end of time is totally in the hands of God, and that even the incarnate Son was not given the day or the hour, we truly don’t know. But we do know that until that day arrives there are people everywhere who have yet to hear. There are people in our cities and communities who have never repented of their sin, to turn by faith towards Jesus and his work on the cross, and trust the risen Christ.
We (my family) are taking this seriously. What I mean is, we’re listening to sound reason and advice from the authorities such as the CDC and local government. Right not this means social distancing and self quarantine. We’re washing well, eating as healthy as we can, rationing TP (sort of), and covering coughs with our arms. The church where I’m the lead pastor has cancelled Sunday gatherings in person, as well as several events that were planned for late March. We’re prayerfully considering what City Groups (our small groups) should look like, and what’s the safest thing for our flock and the communities we live in. And we, along with thousands of other churches, are thinking of ways to encourage the church body, pray together, study together and fellowship through technology. Needless to say, these times are interesting and challenging, but we cannot succumb to fear and abandon all hope. Why? Because the end is not yet, and there are nations, peoples, tribes and tongues; there are neighbors, co-workers, family members and friends who have yet to hear the Gospel.
I’m not unaware of the possible number of deaths that the CDC says could ensue, but honestly, I’m hope-filled, not because I lack caution and prudence, but because of Jesus and the focus of His mission. Think about the way he endured the cross for us, and how the Father’s plan for our salvation put Jesus smack at the center of a tremendous trial. Yet Jesus endured for the sake of the mission, because he knew His Father’s will was perfect and trustworthy.
Today, we have a mission too. We find that mission in Acts 1:8. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” As we carry forth the mission of Jesus we encounter trials of various kinds, trials that increase in intensity as the years pass and as Jesus’s return draws closer. In the midst of this we cling to the very faith Jesus showed us, a faith that surrendered to the will of our Father for the glory of the One who’s mission we still hold fast and hold dear.
The Gospel according to Matthew put it this way:
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
“This is not a great commission, nor a great commandment. It is a great certainty, a great confidence.” John Piper
So let us be as certain as we can about the things that matter the most. Let us be wise and loving in our actions when the world is in great need. But let us not forget the mission, and the certainty of God’s promises to fulfill that mission.