He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marvelled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you. 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10 (NIV).
When I was a kid, I spent most of my middle school years in southeast Oklahoma. During lunch hours, I sat with kids who talked about their churches (really, they did). It was the late 1970s, and they talked a lot about the end times, about the days and things that will happen when Jesus returns. I had attended church all my life, the churches I had attended were mainstream northern protestant (Lutheran or Presbyterian), not charismatic evangelicals such as Baptist, Assemblies of God, or Pentecostal. I had never learned about any of this, and what they said scared the crap out of me, making me question whether I was good enough for Jesus.
I felt angry, upset at how they treated this end-times news as if it was some special information only they knew about. These teenagers tossed it around as if it was something cool, something given just to them, and when I started asking questions they responded with, “DON’T YOU KNOW THIS?” I didn’t. That was the point when I gave up.
News flash: on our own, you and I AREN’T good enough for Jesus. We choose other things and separate ourselves from Him. But it isn’t up to us to do things to become “good enough” for Him. We can’t. He’s already done everything necessary to repair our relationship. At the cross, He replaced our sin with His blood and our uncleanness with His purity. When His Father sees us, all He sees is Jesus covering one of His beloved children.
Here’s a second news flash: this is for everyone. It isn’t just for Christians or evangelicals. It isn’t just for people who look or think like you, and it isn’t just for the people you like. It isn’t just for black people or white people, and it isn’t just for Americans or Ugandans or underground believers who defy Communist China. Jesus is coming back and He’s coming back with holy fire to make all things new, and He wants everyone to know so they can believe in Him first. It isn’t a secret, and we aren’t to act as if you need a secret handshake to know it. We aren’t better than anyone just because we know it even if we may be better informed. Get with the program but don’t be a jerk about it.
For further reading: Philippians 3:9, 1 Thessalonians 5:3, 2 Peter 3:7, 2 Kings 17:18, Isaiah 2:10, 2 Thessalonians 1:9.
Lord, help Me to witness for You today to everyone.