November 10, 2013: Last Judgement Sunday

Let us pray: Dear Savior, how wonderful it is to live under the safety of Your umbrella of grace! How comforting to know that You, in Your own time, will fix the injustices of this world, punish evildoers, and bless Your faithful flock. Knowing this, we really have nothing to worry about because through faith we know that our future is blest! Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE ULTIMATE JUDGE OF ALL PEOPLE

TEXT: 2 Thessalonians 1: 5-10

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

Peregrine Grenville Wodhouse. Now that’s an English name for you! But, he wasn’t really English. He was an American writer who reveled in the fantasy of Merry Olde England, lived there for some time, and penned the well-known comedic series of books about: Wooster and Jeeves. Bertie Wooster is a wealthy English gentleman who is bumbling, funny, and rather brainless. Jeeves is his butler, rather “gentleman’s gentleman,” who is smarter than anyone else, knows everything, and continually gets Bertie out of trouble. It’s fun reading. The books are: witty, satirical, and provide a timeless social commentary on human nature. P. G. Wodhouse found himself trapped in France during WWII. He was interned by the Nazi’s in a small house and spent the war there. Although many on the allied side sneered at his apparent docile attitude about all this, Wodehouse used the time to write more novels, lived in his own little world of: “Wooster and Jeeves,” and tuned the war out.

I know people like that today. They seldom read the newspaper or listen to breaking news on the television because it’s all so depressing. Some of them just don’t care to be upset by it all. After all, they are powerless to remedy the situation. Others are so jaded by this corrupt world that they hope and pray it all just ends very soon with judgment day. As appealing as that sounds sometimes, I find myself paying attention to the injustices reported daily so that I can better relate to what God’s people are facing. It is tempting to live in fantasyland, but reality always seems to intrude, doesn’t it?

I

I’ll admit it–the daily news cycle is depressing. Politicians feed us lies by the hour. Greed seems to fuel everything people do. Child abusers and murderers who are given life sentences seem to find a way to get out of jail. The sharks eat the minnows. And whenever you hear of such evil don’t you find yourself saying: “Lord, how long?” We Christians suffer in this life. Good seems to be pushed aside in favor of evil. Wrong seems to triumph over right. Good people get cancer and bad people live on and on. God’s Church is scorned, mocked, and ignored. What are we to make of all this? Has God forgotten about us?

No, He has not! He never promised us heaven on earth, otherwise where would the attraction of heaven be? Likewise, God really does and will take care of evil and its followers. That’s why Judgment Day holds no fear for the believer. It’s our ultimate Liberation Day!

Paul founded the church in Thessalonkia. The people there were dear to his heart. After his first epistle to them, they found themselves under various types of persecution. Some took this to mean the end times were upon them and they gave up working, living, and trying to spread Godly goodness. Also, a fake letter from Paul was even circulated in their midst to stir them up and lead them astray. When Paul heard about all this, he wrote them this 2nd epistle and even personally signed it to prove its authenticity. And the purpose of this epistle was to counteract the depressing attitude that had become pervasive among many in that church.

II

Notice how St. Paul begins: “All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well.” Yes, this life is, as Malachi of old said: Like a refiner’s fire. All the problems, struggles, and angst we go through here and now distills our faith down to the essential core: Christ alone saves with His grace.

Life is nothing more than this refining process. And rest assured, at the end of it only Godly goodness will survive. Only true and perfect justice will prevail. All this will be revealed on Judgment Day. “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 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 majesty of his power.”

I know a few people who also have basically given up trying to make their own corner of the world a better place because: “The world is evil, it’s soon ended, so what’s the point?” Folks, that’s paralysis by inaction. It appears pious on the surface, but it’s lazy Christianity. Cutting yourself off from others and failing to let your light shine because you believe the world will end soon doesn’t save anyone. It doesn’t uplift anyone. It doesn’t truly honor God. And it fails to heed Christ’s commission to evangelize. It’s also quite selfish in that it doesn’t care for anyone but yourself. So, instead of getting depressed over the news of the world, use it to God’s advantage. Do you see injustice?—Then oppose it with Godly truth. Speak out to others and tell them what God thinks about such behavior. Don’t be afraid to lay a little guilt on such people when it’s needed. Do you shake your head when bad people get off and justice is denied?—Then convey the truth of the commandments, live them, and rest assured that no ungodly person will escape God’s justice. And instead of feeling totally weighed down by your own sins thus becoming depressed, always trust in Christ’s forgiveness won on the cross for you, focus on His mercy and love, and go forward with the knowledge that when Judgment Day arrives, you have nothing to fear because it is Your loving Brother Who died for you that will be your Judge!

When I was a little boy Judgment Day evoked thoughts of dread. But for the Christian, it really shouldn’t. As I said before: Judgement Day is our Liberation Day! And how can I be assured of that fact? Listen to the rest of our text: “On the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.” Yes, the day is coming when Christ’s glory will be revealed in each of us! On that day we will marvel at and be amazed at the depth of His love, His compassion, His truth, and His justice. On that day we won’t be depressed any more. We won’t feel powerless or impotent. We won’t dream about crawling under a rock and pulling it over our heads. We won’t shake our heads any more and wonder: Why? Or: “How long, Lord?”

Meanwhile, a new day has dawned, you’re alive, and God expects you to rejoice and be glad over it! None of us can change the world. We’re not that powerful. So, we leave that up to Christ. But all of us can change our own little corner of it for the better. Church makes family life better, which makes your job doable, which means you’ll have time and energy for friends. Inner Christian growth leads to outer Christian strength in every avenue of life.. So, the bottom line is: keep yourselves busy in and for Christ! Amen