Much of current evangelical Christian teaching would instruct us that Jesus Christ will soon return for His church, in an event called the “rapture”. The stated purpose of this event is so His faithful people will escape the coming tribulation, a period of intense persecution under a future anti-christ world leader. The thinking behind this “free ticket out of here” or “easy escape” is that Christ’s love for His church is to pull them out of the world as a reward for faithfulness so they can avoid the coming suffering.
But… what if the “rapture” – at least as it is taught – is not going to happen? What if the pre-trib eschatological theories presented as fact in our churches and popularized by the Left Behind series of novels are in fact wrong?
If you and I had no free ticket out of here, or easy escape from the “great tribulation” – how would this change how we live our lives as Christians in our world?
THAT is really the KEY question for each of us.
While it is easy to demonstrate how the “free ticket out of here” theory of the end-times does not really line up with scripture, and easy to show how this uniquely western/first-world viewpoint did not really exist before the 1830s or become popularized until after the first world war…
the fact remains that this theory enjoys great popularity.
AND it has had a deleterious effect on the effectiveness of the church within our secular society.
While we could debate eschatological theory, of greater concern is the unfortunate result of this pre-trib end-times viewpoint. For those of you who aren’t seeing beyond a theological debate, read on.
It has taken the church out of the world (at least out of our own secular society we live in).
It has turned our attention from the import of Christ’s Second Coming and toward a fixation on our own escape from this world.
It has caused the church – at least fundamentalists – to turn inward and withdraw from society, instead of engaging it.
We have been called to engage the world with the practical Great Commission and be light to the world until He returns… and not just to prepare ourselves and hunker down to wait until he pulls us out of this temporary challenging existence.
So to return to the key question… If you and I had no free ticket out of here, or easy escape from the “great tribulation” – how would this change how we live our lives as Christians in our world?
If we truly understand the Father’s heart – and why Christ came the first time – we would know that we exist as the church and are present in this world to bring Him glory, to carry out the Great Commission, to ensure that, before Christ returns the Second time, that as many people as possible will come to call Him Lord, because He loves every one, and desires that NONE should perish or be left outside the kingdom.
The Great Commission may call some of us to other nations, cultures, or unreached people groups.
But the Great Commission is placed upon all of us. The Great Commission is no further than our own household, our own family, our own neighbors, our own co-workers, and every person that we encounter on a given day. That is your mission ground. That is my mission ground. That is our ticket. That is why we exist and why we are still here. We are called to be here and to be light to the world until Christ returns. No escape clause!
So this calls me and you to self-examination. If we lived our lives with the view that there is no free ticket pending – no get out of jail free card – and no escape to wait for, but that we are to be light to our world and engage with it until He returns – how would this alter the way I conduct my life on a daily basis? Would I be more deliberate about the people I meet? Would I be more active in changing our world?
That is the RIGHT question. And now I am off to review myself.
p.s. for you theology buffs, a discussion that focuses on the different eschatological viewpoints may be forthcoming in a future post. But I thought it imperative to focus first on what really matters most. 😉