As I consider the state of this world and the changes that are coming over it so rapidly, from political to cultural to environmental to technological and more, these three words from the prayer model Jesus taught his disciples become tremendously meaningful to me: "Thy kingdom come." Bring it, Lord. Maranatha. We humans are terrifyingly smart, far beyond our wisdom to know what to do with our abilities. The garden seems so far away. How I long for it! But for all our brilliance, we can't find it apart from you. Thy kingdom come. I am not a student of end-times prophecy. It fascinated me once, years ago, but there are reasons why I don't preoccupy myself with such stuff now. I'm well aware that every generation of believers has thought it was the last generation, and I surely don't cotton to alarmists, much less to fools who limit out their credit cards because Jesus is coming back on such-and-such a date. But with that said, I am mindful that Jesus is returning. And as I look around me, I see a world rapidly escalating not toward some bright, bright humanistic future, but toward unbearable conditions. Jesus, speaking of the state of the world at the time of his return, said that "because iniquity shall abound, the love of many will grow cold." I see the ethos for lovelessness taking root, the spirit of anti-Christ swelling into the fullness of its day. I don't wish to sound bleak. There is much in this country, in this world, and certainly in God's creation, that is yet good and wonderful. But I also feel the times closing in, and I wonder just how near the "harvest of the earth" is to full ripeness (Rev. 14:14-17). Not far, I think. Gathering speed and momentum, accelerating toward the day of reaping. Friends, brothers and sisters in Jesus, this is no time to be drawn into the spitefulness of the new presidential debates, whose vitriol is sure to be more bitter than ever, even violent. I'm certainly not saying don't follow the debates, nor, most definitely, am I saying don't vote. Vote how you believe best, or don't vote at all if you choose. But don't—do not—partake of the bitterness and rage that are seething higher and higher in our country and in this world. Don't act as though the kingdom of God rises or falls with a political ideology, whether yours or anyone's. It doesn't—never has and never will. That ought to be good news, particularly today. When Joshua, standing outside Jericho, asked the angelic warrior whose side he was on, the warrior answered, "Neither, but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come" (Joshua 5:13-14).Given two options—us or them—the angel rejected both and pointed Joshua to one he hadn't considered. Jesus said, "When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near" (Luke 21:28). What things? Read the surrounding text of that Scripture quote. And let's encourage each other, friends, to not be swept up in the conditions of the kingdom of the world that is, but to look up to the kingdom and the King that are soon to come. We must lift up our heads to a higher, everlasting vision. "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind" (Romans 12:2). Do not let your love grow cold. Most immediately, amid the mud-slinging and hateful rhetoric of this election cycle, remember that the kingdom of God does not rise or fall with men and women of power. It is about whom you allow to control the reins of your heart—and that will be shown by the attitudes you display, the words you speak, and the mercy and kindness you show. I don't mean to sound preachy. I myself am terribly, heartbreakingly fallible, and the words I've written, I write as much to myself as to you. This is not an easy world to live in. But let's each of us do what we can to spread grace and redemption—until Jesus returns. That may not be much longer. I don't know; I just feel, as I think many of you do, that "the times they are a-changin'." Maranatha, Lord Jesus. Bob
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