Pastoral Perspectives

A Clock Ticking?

If we visit another country or culture, we will surely discover that the sense of timing and life will quite different from our own. Our daily schedule will be disrupted by a different time-zone and our taste-buds or food preferences will also change. What does it mean to be on time? Does it matter in a different country so long as you arrive safely? How long should a job take to finish or are deadlines are non-existent? Another country means another time-zone and another set of values.

It falls upon us then to adapt if we want to be accepted and effective in the mission field.  Adjusting to a different time, a different culture and even a different lifestyle is one of the challenges of missions.

God’s sense of time and schedule is quite different from ours. We are merely   His creation and our time is in His time as the clock ticks. In fact, our lives should also adapt to His standard and morals as we are His people living in His world. So, in a similar situation like missionaries, Christians are also adjusting to a different time-span of eternity, a different culture of divine worship and even a different lifestyle of service and holiness.

There was one thing that set apart the early Christians from the world which we should also emulate (or have already emulated). The example of the Thessalonian Church gave them as sense of divine timing in that they were waiting for the Second coming of Jesus Christ and the impending judgement of this world.

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10   For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.

Some Christians, to whom Peter also wrote, faced persecution, harassment and suffering for their faith. They knew that God had already planned the second coming of Christ and eventually the judgment of the earth. But they must have wondered what God was waiting for and why Jesus has not come then.  However, Peter told them that God has a different timetable than ours. The perception of time is different for God (one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day-2 Peter 3:8).

Peter encouraged the early Christians to have patience. He told them not to bother with what other doubters said – concerning the slowness of judgement and Christ’s second coming. God is in control and has not forgotten his people. So he wrote to explain:

ESV 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

Peter wanted the early Christians to persevere because of the hope that Jesus is coming again; and so all things will come to pass. Nothing could be more comforting to know that the Lord is coming. However, I am not sure how the early Christians would have felt since Jesus did not come during their time. Perhaps we can take comfort in knowing that just as the Messiah had come, we also have this hope and promise of His coming again.

In this passage (2 Peter 3:9) we must understand that while we anxiously wait for God’s justice to come, God patiently waits for more people to repent. He moves with perfect timing, and not with slowness.

When I was a young Christian, there were prophets of doom predicting the destruction of the world. They said with the budding of the fig tree, i.e. the formation of Israel in 1948, 40 years later in 1988 that Jesus will come. Then there was another prediction through a phenomenal event when all the planets in our solar system would be in line; and because of the magnetic pull of each planet, all planets will crash into each other and the world will come to an end. The list can go on but actually, only God the Father knows (Mt. 24:36, Mk. 13:32).

As God’s clock ticks, let us be synchronizing our time with His. Let us consider how we can be both watchful and prayerful in following God’s timetable. We could use the time He has given to live a holy life, reconcile with each other, love one another, serve Him and spread the Good News.

Now that we know the urgency as the clock is ticking by, let us go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Rev Eddie Chandra

August 21, 2016