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It’s hard to turn on the TV, listen to the radio, open a newspaper or look on the Internet without coming face to face with the evil of this world. I don’t know if we’re living in the very “last days” before Jesus returns or not, but I’m certain that we’re a lot closer today than we were yesterday.
A lot of Christians are interested in when Jesus is going to return, and I look forward to that day as well…but there’s a reason why God didn’t tell us when that day is coming. He doesn’t just want us to get ready for Jesus to come back. He wants us to live ready!
The apostle Paul wrote to his young apprentice Timothy and described to him what the “last days” would look like. If you read through the list of characteristics found in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, it sounds like a description of the world we live in: greed, arrogance, slander, and no self-control. The list is pretty accurate.
But in the next chapter, Paul gives Timothy specific instructions on how he is to handle these difficult times. He tells Timothy to “correct, rebuke and encourage” those around him (2 Timothy 4:1-5).
Now the encouraging part isn’t that difficult. I do a lot of that in my teaching and people accept it pretty well. But when I get into the “correct and rebuke” mode…that starts stepping on some toes.
God’s calling on my life, as a teacher of His Word, is to help people grow up spiritually so they can have the abundant life Jesus died for them to have. That means I can’t just tell them what they want to hear. When I stand before God to give an account of what I’ve taught, I’ll be responsible for telling folks what they need to hear, not just what makes them feel good.
“Now Joyce,” some of you are saying, “I’m not a preacher like you or Timothy. What does all this have to with me?”
You are a preacher! Maybe not with your mouth all the time like me, but as a believer in Christ, your life is a living sermon. At work, at the grocery store, at school…your life should encourage others by showing them the love of God working in your life. And you don’t even have to open your mouth to do it!
So what kind of life makes a good sermon? It’s the kind of life that reflects the fact that you are a child of God. That alone will stand out in this world.
For example, I John 4 says we can live without fear because of what God has done for us. God promises that He will take care of us, whatever our circumstances or what’s going on in the world around us. People today are scared. They’re scared of wars, the economy, the government…it seems the news is a constant fear-fest these days.
We as Christians know that we are safe and secure in God’s arms and that He will always take care of us, even in the hardest of times. Our lives should reflect our faith in that Truth. That kind of living is what makes you “holy” or “set apart” from the world. The very fact that you can go out and live unafraid is a witness and a testimony to the world.
Safety doesn’t always equal comfort, though. Living in the world means we’re always going to see things and hear things that make us a little uncomfortable. And that’s OK. Sometimes God places us in situations where we’re uncomfortable just so we turn the light up a little bit brighter.
To do this, we don’t have to get all “religious.” There’s no need for you to walk around with your six-pack of Bibles and covered head to toe with bumper stickers. All you need to do is let your light shine. Loving, calm, happy, gracious behavior will stand out. That will be a light in a dark place.
In these tough times, we need God more than ever. And as we are the Body of Christ, God needs us to be acting on His behalf. He needs us to go out and shine His light into the darkness of the world. Believe today that in Christ, you have what it takes to not be afraid and to be a person that God can use to change people’s lives.