Live with End Times Urgency

2nd Sunday of Advent

Live with End Times Urgency!

Text: 2 Peter 3:8-14

It’s game seven of the World Series. Win and you are the best team in baseball. Lose and you go home empty handed. Against all physical odds you are the starting pitcher for that game. What does game seven mean to you?

Game seven means that you pay special attention to every single pitch you throw. Your concentration level is through the roof because if you mess up today the season is over. You don’t have the luxury of redemption tomorrow or the next day. One momentary lapse in judgment or mechanics here and you have a long off season of disappointment ahead of you, months of wishing you had a do-over, a restart button that you could push.

The pressure is on to perform now, not tomorrow or the next day. There are no second chances, this is it. There are no guarantees that you will ever be in this situation again, no promises that you will remain healthy or that your team will win like they did this season. Either you throw nine innings of the best baseball of your life or you will go home disappointed. This game is life-changing, this game has urgency…

Not a baseball fan? That’s fine, I don’t know if we can be friends anymore, but that’s fine. Whether you are a baseball fan or not it is not hard to conjure up a list of situations in life where the pressure is on, situations that have a sense urgency to them. Perform now, or you lose.

Whether it’s pitching in the World Series or nailing that big job interview, the urgent times in our lives are hectic and often tremendously stressful.

Today Peter lays down the gauntlet. Peter points out a “perform now, or lose” situation that is not reserved for professional athletes. This challenge will demand the very best we have to offer. This challenge will require much more concentration and good judgment than any other task we could ever face. Today Peter challenges us to live with End Times urgency.

Here is Peter’s challenge, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought to you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives… make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.”

This was is the same challenge that Isaiah threw down in the Old Testament lesson for today. This is the same challenge that John the Baptist dished out in the Gospel for today. All three readings have the same message, Jesus is coming, repent!

Jesus came to this world once already and when he left he promised that he would come again soon to judge the world. When he comes, those who have repented, those who have lived holy and godly lives will enjoy the new heavens and new earth that Peter wrote about. When Jesus comes those who have not repented, who have not lived holy and godly lives will be destroyed in the fire that Peter wrote about. All three readings point out the same ‘perform now or lose’ situation. All three men laid out the same urgent challenge.

But wait; didn’t Isaiah live some 700 years before John and Peter? Didn’t John and Peter go to the grave almost 2000 years ago preaching this so called “urgent” message that Jesus was coming soon so we had better repent? What is taking God so long? How does he expect us to take this message with any urgency if thousands of years have passed and nothing has changed? Day follows night, harvest follows planting, death follows life…

Satan does an amazing job at lulling us into a false sense of security. I often go days and weeks without even thinking about the end of the world let alone repenting like I should. It is so easy to slip into the mindset that tomorrow will be the same as yesterday just as yesterday was the same as the day before that. It is all but impossible to face the end of the world with anything close to the urgency that game seven of the World Series would have.

It would be so much easier if God had just said that the world would end at 10:30 AM December 5, 2011. I would have no problem summoning some end times urgency. I would have no problem concentrating on living a holy and godly life.

Think about it: If you knew Jesus were coming in 24 hours what kind of things would top your to do list? Besides maxing out your credit card and doing something fun that wouldn’t have done otherwise, what would you do? Would you consider healing that relationship that has rusted in fractured discord for years? Would you remember to be the loving spouse God has called you to be? Would you be motivated to treat your children with the patience that God asks of you? Would you have that conversation you have been avoiding with your neighbor about Jesus? Would you suddenly find the courage and reason to do the work of an evangelist in the world around you? Would you brush the dust off your Bible? Would you remember to pray continually? Would you fall on your knees and praise your God with your whole heart, soul and mind?

It seems like it would be easy to be spotless, blameless and at peace with God if we knew when he was coming. If we had a reason to live with real end times urgency it would be more convenient. If Jesus hadn’t said that the end was coming “soon” 2000 years ago we would be more apt to take him seriously…

Remember what Peter wrote, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness… the day of the Lord will come like a thief.” It may seem like God is taking his sweet time in coming, but don’t let our ideas of time deceive you. God has his own timeline and does not follow our human view of time. Satan may whisper in your ear that tomorrow will be the same as yesterday, but the reality is that Jesus is coming soon. He could come in five minutes, five days, or five centuries and it would still be soon from God’s perspective.

The fact is that Jesus will come like a thief. He could come at any second, and that fact my friends should give you more than enough urgency. That fact should have you sitting on the edge of your seat with a respectful amount of fear because if Jesus came right now he would find us in a pretty sorry state.

If Jesus came right now he could look you and me and say, “I told you I was coming soon, why weren’t your prepared? I told you I was coming soon, why didn’t you love your spouse, or show patience to your child? Why didn’t you tell your neighbor about me, why didn’t you read your Bible today, or pray to me this morning? I told you I was coming soon.”

Jesus could say these things to us, he has every right to, but by the grace of God he won’t. “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” We have a God who has made a lot of promises. At creation he promised he would send someone to crush a wily serpents head. Over the next thousands of years he clarified that promise. This someone would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem. He would be called a Nazarene and be despised by those he came to save. He would be betrayed by one of his closest friends. He would be pierced for our transgressions. He would hang from a tree a cursed man. He would be abandoned by God. His death would heal our wounds.

His body would lie in a new grave. His flesh would not decay. He would go from death to life.

The God who made these promises kept them, all of them, to the letter. The God who made these promises came to you and me in the words of the Bible, the waters of baptism, the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper and he offered us forgiveness. He created in us faith that clings to his promises yet to be fulfilled.

Do you know why God didn’t come 2000 years ago when Peter wrote this letter? He didn’t come because he had me in mind. He had your name written on his heart before he created the world. God was willing to wait so that he could show his love to me and to you. He didn’t want us to miss out on the beauty of a new heaven and a new earth. He didn’t want me to perish. He didn’t want you to burn up in the fire. He wanted to love us. He will continue to wait until all those he has chosen are part of his flock. He is patient and loving enough to do that for us.

So I’ll ask Peter’s question again. I’ll lay down Peter’s gauntlet once more. “With this in mind, what kind of people ought you to be?” If we lived our lives truly believing that our next breath could be our last, what kind of Christians would we be? Maybe, just maybe God’s love and patience for us would motivate us to “live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”

Moved by the love of God we will live our lives with end times urgency. We will be willing to forgive whatever grudges we have been clinging too. We will strive to love our spouses unconditionally as Christ loved the church. We will endeavor to be as endlessly patient with our children as our Father is with us. We will be motivated to share our Savior with those who need to hear it and so be God’s instrument to fill another room in heaven. We will regard our personal study of God’s word as a truly precious opportunity to grow closer to the Almighty. We will call to our God in prayer with our every hope, wish, dream, fear and thought as if he were our perfectly loving Father. We will regularly fall on our knees in absolute praise of our God who loves us so fully that he would die in our place.

I will never know the urgency of pitching in a game seven of the World Series. But we all can enjoy lives full of end times urgency. We can live every day as if it were our last. We can show the perfect love and patience that our God shows to us. He is a God who makes and keeps his promises. The day is surely drawing near when we will all stand up and say with John, “Look the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

AMEN

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About vicarhoff

I am thrilled and honored to be serving as vicar/intern at Christ the King Lutheran Church and School for a whole year!

Posted on December 5, 2011, in Church, Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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