But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God - having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them. 2 Timothy 3:1-5
The apostle Paul wrote these words in his last days. Scholars believe that it was only days after he penned these words that he was taken from the dark, dank cell in which he was imprisoned and beheaded.
We believe he wrote these words by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. God knows all things. And although Paul wrote to Timothy 2000 years ago, his description of our days is spot on. These are terrible days.
We have made millionaires out of talent-less people who are lovers of themselves. How do you explain someone who tweets naked pictures of themselves for all the universe to see? The selfish sinful nature always wants to be put front and center. Athletes are idolized and lifted up while making their boastful comments about their greatness. Opinion polls often tout our society's "spirituality." Many people think of themselves as spiritual, intent on worshiping a god made in their own image. Meanwhile, the one true God, the maker of all things, who offers a new life and new way of living through Christ Jesus, is pushed farther and farther away. Lord, have mercy.
The news from Nice, France last night left me in a state of shock. Coming on the heals of so much recent death, destruction, hatred and tragedy, it was almost too much to take in. Again, this weekend in our churches we will pray for those who mourn and implore the Lord to bring this nonsense to an end. Christ, have mercy.
All of this has left me with the strongest feeling that our last, best and greatest hope is Jesus Christ. Jesus teaches us to have love - not for ourselves but for God and for our neighbor. He sends us into this world to go and be merciful. Have mercy on the poor. Have mercy on the abused. Have mercy on those hard to love. Our new life in Christ changes us. We realize that life is not all about "me, myself and I." It's all about Jesus - His forgiveness, His grace, His hope, His salvation.
With apologies to Bob Dylan, "The times they are a'terrible." But as His church and people, we trust in His power and wisdom. Nothing is too hard for the Lord. Nothing is impossible for God. So we turn to God in this time of trouble. We pray for mercy. But as we pray, let us not be silent or inactive. Go into your part of the world and witness Christ. Share His love. Give witness to His power to change hearts and lives. We are not people who live without hope.
We have Jesus.
We have hope.