When you exit this life what will you take with you? Will your life mean anything?
People have all sorts of ideas about this. I subscribe to the idea that if you want to find out why a thing is there, ask the person that made it.
So I think that if you want to know the meaning of life, the universe and everything, the best person to ask is God Himself. Luckily for us, the disciples of Lord Jesus asked Him a similar question and He gave them a detailed answer. It’s all nicely written in Matthew 24 and 25.
The unfortunate thing about Matthew 24 & 25 is that it tends toward the apocalyptic. Some of it is hectically scary. But.
It’s wise to remember scary things.
People tend to focus on negative things. We are told that our negative focus is hard-wired into our brains. Remembering bad stuff can be beneficial. For instance, would the human race be around if our ancestors forgot that the big scary thing with horns was dangerous?
However, God didn’t leave us to run away screaming every time we saw a big scary thing. He gave us a brain up-grade. Its called the prefrontal cortex. A useful part of the brain that enables us to say; “Hmmm, I see the big scary cat eating the big scary thing with horns. Perhaps I should also eat one?” This head butting part of the brain enables us to overcome fear and move forward as people and as a species.
So let’s head-butt Matthew 24 & 25 and see what drops out?
Zip version of Mat. 24, 25.
As Lord Jesus and His friends leave the Temple in Jerusalem. They point to the cool buildings. Our Lord says, (paraphrased) “this stuff is all going down.” This disturbs His friends as Jerusalem and The Temple are central to their identity as a nation. Surely this means the end? Later on they ask Him to tell them more about the end and the signs of His return.
Our Lord responds honestly and pretty much gives the nutshell version of Revelations.
Somewhat scary stuff (remain calm).
Lord Jesus begins by saying that before He returns there will be signs in the world, signs in the middle east and signs in the heavens. They include false teachers (deception), wars, rumors of wars and natural disasters etc.
If you look at current events, its easy to find wars, rumors of wars and natural disasters. If you wind the clock back 100 years, 500 years and 1000 years you will see the same. 68% of the human race does not know Lord Jesus and those that do are often at risk to false teachings. This is planet earth and the human race business as usual.
In Mat. 24: 14. Lord Jesus seems to say that the end will come when the gospel is preached to all nations. Where is the Church on that commission? If 68% of the human race is not Christian, we may assume a sizable % of that 68% has not heard the Gospel. I think we should unpack our rapture kits and send truck loads of evangelists and apostles into the fields. There’s still much work to be done before our Lord returns.
Despite the alarming nature of these scriptures, Lord Jesus tells us “See that you are not troubled” as this is only the beginning. We are to endure and ensure we are not deceived by false teachers and prophets.
Much scarier stuff (remember to head-butt).
The next part gets much scarier. Lord Jesus says: ‘when you see the ‘abomination of desolation’; head for the hills, go off grid, don’t pack, just leave, because this is going to be the worst time ever.
In this time we see false Christs, false Prophets and tribulation to the point that God will intervene to prevent human extinction.
After this our Lord returns, meets His elect and begins His 1000 year reign.
Dispensationalists disagree on this point. They believe in two raptures. Rapture A to bail the elect out of the great tribulation and Rapture B for the rest of humanity. This teaching is widespread and not as harmless as it seems.
The preppers guide to the coming apocalypse.
I find it interesting that “everyone” knows that the apocalypse is coming. Its not isolated to Christianity, it seems universal. We seem to have embraced alien invasion, giant lizards, viral annihilation and Zombies. Its in our language and entertainment, it seems inevitable.
So how do we respond? How do we prepare?
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist see the opportunity in every difficulty.” Winston Churchill.
Peppered within our Lords grim prophecy are seeds of hope and practical ways to manage. For instance, our Lord communicates that we should see that no one deceives us, endure, watch, prepare, do not become complacent and so on. We cannot do much about false teachers, but we can identify false teachings.
As Lord Jesus closes His Prophecy, He preempts the inevitable; when, where, how, who, what-must-I-do? questions by answering them in a series of parables. He very elegantly prepares those that will go through the apocalypse as well as those that will not. In fact, two-thirds of Mat. 24 & 25 tells us what to do about the other one-third. So lots of helpful stuff compared to scary stuff. Moreover, if you think about it, Lord Jesus summarizes the course of human history until He returns.
The rest of Mat. 24 & 25 is a multi dimensional chunk of scripture packed with valuable lessons. Here is a way (not the way) to view them. The parables are:
- The good and evil housekeeper.
- The wise and foolish virgins.
- The parable of the talents.
- The sheep and the goats.
In all these parables, someone is held accountable for how they managed their situation, both knowingly and unknowingly. How we respond in any situation, especially unconsciously, is a good indicator of the type of person we are. When you squeeze toothpaste, toothpaste comes out.
So in these parables, the point of accountability is found by answering the questions; were you trustworthy? and were your productive?
In other words, what did you do with what was given to you?
This teaching seems to point towards opportunities, responsibilities and gifts. No rocket science is needed to see that God is into diversity and that each has his/her own unique opportunities, responsibilities and gifts.
The greatest gift of all is Lord Jesus. He offers salvation, forgiveness, healing and meaning to life. A free gift to the rich and the poor because of Love. Not religion but relationship. All we need do is ask. Faith not formula.
What are you doing with what you have?
This question is the answer to life, the universe and everything. The answer is not in some mystic future where you discover that you are actually the long-lost princess or a secret agent. Life is much less cliché than that. Mat. 24 & 25 tells us very clearly that God will ask you what you did with what He gave you.
What He gave you is what you have now. Forget some future bank balance or the discovery of a dormant talent. Now is what matters. “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble“; “Give us this day our daily bread;” “Blessed be the Lord who daily loads us with benefits.” Lord Jesus says that we will be held accountable for how we manage our daily opportunities, responsibilities and gifts.
Look at the parables in question. The housekeeper running the masters house (yawn), the virgins using common sense (whatever), talents being used not buried (oops) and giving water to the thirsty (hmm). They seem mundane and in the moment. No Oscar awards or Ninja talents. In a way this is kind of cool and scary at the same time. I will probably not be bitten by a radioactive spider, but I can give a sick person a lift to the doctor.
The point is made. Let’s do some homework. Let’s make a list of what we have in our hands now. Let’s see them as God given opportunities, responsibilities and gifts. Here are a few ideas.
The truth, your family (wife, husband, children, parents etc), the people who depend on you and trust you, your job, your skills, your assets (house, car property, money), your relationships, the desires of your heart, your part in God’s kingdom, your role in your business and in your community, add more here »
Put names to all of these, make it personal. Ask yourself a) am I faithful? and b) are they growing because of me? Ask yourself before God does.
The meaning to life, the universe and everything.
The answer is found in the first book of the new testament (Mathew = 1) in chapters 24 and 25.
God made life, the universe and everything. It’s therefore wise to ask Him what He expects of us. We want to be rich, beautiful, super heroes (or similar). He wants us to be trustworthy and make things grow. To be trustworthy with the things we have in our hands now.
What do you have in your hands now?