Get off of your soap box
I had a very interesting lunch this past Wednesday. Beth and I were on vacation at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association Training Center at the Cove in Ashville, North Carolina for a week-long spiritual retreat. During lunch, we were joined by several pastors and their wives who were from San Francisco, California. As we introduced ourselves to them and they to us, we understood that they were at the Cove as part of an Arabic Speaking Church Pastor’s Conference. The two people that we spent the most time with were Michael and his wife Mirna. Michael was born in Bethlehem. Mirna was born in Jerusalem.
Immediately, I thought, “Great. I get to talk with two Messianic Jews. I’m going to find out what they believe about the Second Coming of Christ.” It looked like it was going to be an exciting discussion.
Even before I could ask the first question, Michael told me he was not a Jew. I had to let that register for a moment. And almost immediately, he told me that his wife, Mirna, was not a Jew either. Their family is traced back to Ishmael, not to Abraham and they are Palestinians.
Now … if you are not familiar with who Ishmael is, he was the son of Abraham and Hagar (who was the hand-maiden of Sarah, the wife of Abraham. I know…it’s confusing). Think of it like this: Abraham was married to Sarah who could not give him a child. Instead of waiting for God’s Promise (through Isaac), Abraham had a child with Hagar and the son was Ishmael. Two boys, one with Promise (Isaac) the other without Promise (Ishmael.) Isaac’s descendants are Jews. Ishmael’s descendants are Palestinians. The two do not get along.
At any rate, here’s Michael and Mirna and they are here for a pastor’s retreat. Why? Because they have accepted Jesus as their Savior and Lord, have accepted the call to full-time Christian ministry, and are continuing their education/preparation to lead Arabic speaking people groups to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. How wonderful is that?
Well … I wanted to know his belief about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. (See I. Thessalonians 4:13) Michael explained that their focus is not on political or economical or social or religious topics. No … their focus is on Christ. And they believe that one day He is coming back. But their primary focus is on letting those who do not know about Christ find out how to be saved so that when He does come back, they will be ready.
I thought about that this week. Here’s where we, as Christians, should be in our thinking. God is still on His throne. That is the encouraging thing we have going for us. It doesn’t matter who the president is, or whether we like him or not. Or who makes up Congress or how devalued the dollar is or how Wall Street is doing. It doesn’t matter who won “Dancing with the Stars” or “Survivor” or what is going on with “America’s Got Talent” and whether or not you think Howard Stern should be a judge.
It doesn’t matter how bad the world situation is or whether we think America is about to slide off the cliff. It doesn’t even matter who wins the election coming up in November. Nope. All that matters is this: when a man or a woman or a boy or a girl draw their last breath … what matters is this: do they know Jesus Christ as their Savior?
So … let’s get off our different “soap boxes” about things that are not important. And let’s get on “God’s soap box” about letting people know that Jesus is the “Main thing” and that they need to be ready. Jesus is coming back. Whether in my lifetime or not, I do not know. But He is coming back again. Are you ready?
Pastor Thad Gifford is lead pastor of the Crossroads Community Church of Madison County, 62 E. Second St., London. He can be reached at (740) 852-7800, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or at their website www.3c-church.org.