By Warren Nunn
It is no exaggeration to say that we live in perilous times. From mass shootings to suicide bombings and nuclear brinkmanship, the world is a chaotic place.
Consider the following statement:
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power.
What do you make of these descriptions? Most would recognise that it’s from the Christian Bible; the opening statements of 2 Timothy chapter 3 to be exact.
But what does it mean to you? Do you recognise any of these characteristics on display in any person in the world in 2019?
Of course there are a great many people who have some, if not all of the above characteristics. And, guess what? Some people with these character traits actually are part of the Christian church.
I was born an unrepentant sinner
How it this possible? Because every single person alive today is by nature a sinner; that is I was born that way. At some point in my life I have displayed some of the above; I’ve loved money; I’ve boasted; I’ve been proud; I’ve blasphemed; I’ve disobeyed my parents; I’ve been unthankful, unloving … Need I go on?
Is it possible to stop doing these things? I can only speak for myself. I did not even want to try to change my behaviour when I was involved in doing pretty much everything on the list.
But then something changed in my thinking; something completely outside myself. I could see my behaviour was hurting those whom I said I loved.
The reality of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ overwhelmed me and changed me. The Creator of the universe, about Whom I’d been told, became real to me.
I was challenged to live for others
He invaded my thinking and challenged me to live more for others and not for myself.
But while I acknowledged Jesus Christ as my Saviour, I did not always live as though I was saved.
It has been a long and painful process of changing my attitudes and actions to be more like Christ and less like that hateful, spiteful and vindictive person I’d been for so long.
And the changes are still happening.
Hurtful actions cause real harm to others
A byproduct of my actions are the hurt they caused those I love.
Which brings me back to the list in 2 Timothy 3. Those who continue to live in the manner so described will bring pain and hurt on a far greater scale than I did. That’s not to defend my actions.
But you can be absolutely certain that anyone who takes out a gun and shoots people will have some, if not most of those traits on the list. A mass killer will be unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, without self-control, brutal, a despiser of good, headstrong and haughty to list a few traits.
Such a person may invoke a particular ideology but that only puts a label on a heinous, vile crime against humanity. That person wants to impose their will on someone else.
How did Paul predict our world?
So, how did Paul, the writer of 2 Timothy 3, know that the world would be as it is today?
Because the same Spirit of God that saved me from myself saved Paul from his murderous ways and helped him understand that Jesus Christ is real.
Paul’s conversion on that road to Damascus was just as powerful as mine.
Only God’s Spirit turned Paul away from persecuting Christians to being a preacher of the Good News of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ.
Make no mistake, Paul’s conversion confounded everyone around him. It is hard to try to make a modern day comparison, but think of the most vicious, hateful individual you know. If that person were to completely change their character, would that not challenge you?
Free gift of eternity is for everyone
The gift of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is a free, one-on-one transaction with the God of the universe Who grants eternal life to anyone who acknowledges Him.
In Matthew 10, Jesus said:
“Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”
This is the understanding that gripped Paul on the road to Damascus and me as I read the Bible and listened to others speak of His love. And it was the same power that changed the alcoholic Arthur Stace, known as Mr Eternity, on 6 August 1930.
Because we live in perilous times, I urge you to take Jesus at His Word. He wants you to repent of your sins and follow Him. He does not want anyone to perish.
We have the promise of that in 2 Peter 3:9:
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
The choice is yours.