CHRISTIANITY & CULTURE
Christianity is tolerated when it promotes actions that our postmodern world embraces. For example, the command for Christians to “Love your neighbour” (Matthew 22:39) is happily accepted.
On the other hand, Christianity is condemned when it teaches truths that grind against that of our world. In this respect, take the exclusivism of Christianity (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). This truth has our culture red in the face with disgust and anger.
And of course, there are other teachings in Christianity that seem to not even phase that of the secular culture. For instance, the fact that God is a triune God doesn’t make culture throw tomatoes at our church building. They’ll gladly eat their tomatoes and shrug the teaching off.
Because of the nature of who we are, it’s easier, as Christians, to be vocal about the Christian truths that our world embraces. For example, no persecution follows when a Christian loves their neighbour in light of the gospel. Their actions are approved by culture despite their spiritual motives. On the other hand, it can be difficult to voice the especially counter-cultural truths of Christianity. Why? Because of our innate fear of being disliked and unaccepted by others. Or worse, we don’t believe them.
THE (UN)REALITY OF JUDGMENT
One Christian truth that I fear has been hidden and neglected – especially amongst my Millennial generation – is that of the coming “day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” (2 Peter 3:7) Whereas fifty to sixty years ago Christians were criticized for their “hellfire and brimstone” sermons, today crickets are “chirping” on their empty pews. Many parents of Millennials were greatly affected by their past experiences with talk about “hell” (and rightly so) – causing either a change of thinking on the doctrine, or rejection of it altogether. No wonder their kids have little to no knowledge of such a truth.
I would imagine most of my Christian peers have a knowledge of the subject to the degree of its false stereotyped ideology expressed in the media, and perhaps their pastors’ few words on it.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t matter how uneducated we are on this coming day – it’s coming despite what we think. Listen to these strong words that Peter wrote in his letter to Christians in the 1st century:
“BUT BY THE SAME WORD THE HEAVENS AND EARTH THAT NOW EXIST ARE STORED UP FOR FIRE, BEING KEPT UNTIL THE DAY OF JUDGMENT AND DESTRUCTION OF THE UNGODLY.” (2 PETER 3:7)
“BUT THE DAY OF THE LORD WILL COME LIKE A THIEF, AND THEN THE HEAVENS WILL PASS AWAY WITH A ROAR, AND THE HEAVENLY BODIES WILL BE BURNED UP AND DISSOLVED, AND THE EARTH AND THE WORKS THAT ARE DONE ON IT WILL BE EXPOSED.” (2 PETER 3:10)
“…THE COMING OF THE DAY OF GOD…OF WHICH THE HEAVENS WILL BE SET ON FIRE AND DISSOLVED, AND THE HEAVENLY BODIES WILL MELT AS THEY BURN!” (2 PETER 3:12)
And these are just a few verses of many in the Bible that speak to this coming day.
So, why bring this up? For one, all Scripture, despite its cultural approval or not, is “breathed out by God” and is beneficial for our growth in maturity as Christians (2 Timothy 3:16-17). But secondly, there’s another truth found partnered with this “day of judgment” that is important for us to know. It’s important because it helps us see the character of God.
PETER, THE SCOFFERS, AND GOD’S HEART
In writing his letter, Peter makes mention of some people who were mocking the doctrine of Jesus’s return.¹ They were asking, “Where is this promised day? We’ve seen no evidence of God’s working in the world. All things have continued the same since the beginning!” Peter addresses these “scoffers” by giving two examples of God’s working in the world,² and then an explanation of why God’s waiting to fulfill his promise.
So, why isn’t this promise of Jesus’s return happening today? Why isn’t this “coming day” here? It’s been centuries!
Peter’s answer is remarkable:
“DO NOT OVERLOOK THIS ONE FACT, BELOVED, THAT WITH THE LORD ONE DAY IS AS A THOUSAND YEARS, AND A THOUSAND YEARS AS ONE DAY. THE LORD IS NOT SLOW TO FULFILL HIS PROMISE AS SOME COUNT SLOWNESS, BUT IS PATIENT TOWARDS YOU, NOT WISHING THAT ANY SHOULD PERISH, BUT THAT ALL SHOULD REACH REPENTANCE.” (2 PETER 3:8-9)
Notice God’s heart here. The reason this “coming day” is not here today, is because today he’s being patient with unbelievers. We must understand this patience! God is a holy and righteous God – a God who can do nothing against his character (2 Timothy 2:13), meaning, he can’t dwell or accept sin. This day of judgment is on mankind. It’s a day where everything will be exposed, and all ungodliness that is uncovered will be justly condemned. In one sense, there’s no reason for God to wait – but he does. Every breath you take is his gracious patience.
And let’s not miss this crucial point: his patience is to lead us to repentance. And upon genuine repentance, God has given us the greatest gift: salvation through his Son.
4 REASONS TO UNASHAMEDLY BELIEVE IN THE COMING “DAY OF JUDGMENT”
So, why is this unattractive Christian truth so important for us to take to heart today? Why should Millennial Christians take this “day of judgment” out of hiding?
Four things come to mind:
1. Because it’s actually coming. Don’t be swept up into the modern thinking of our day (which, unfortunately, has seeped into the church), where now trumps eternity. Think of your unbelieving friends and family members. Go, share the gospel.
2. Because it reminds us of God’s character. God is holy and righteous in all his ways – even the terrifying judgment that he is to bring on all ungodliness. At the same time, God is patient, wishing that all would repent. With his gracious patience in mind, go, share the gospel.
3. Because it pushes us to grow in our faith. This truth can cause some tomatoes to be thrown. It can break friendships. It can cause rejection. In the midst of this tribulation, however, incredible faith can grow. I hope that we all grow in our faith in Christ to a point where our fear of man is snuffed out by our much greater fear of God.
4. Because it marks the day of our full salvation. You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t emphasized the benefit of Christ’s return, which is, all who are found in Christ will be faced with “new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:13) Although it may be difficult to believe now, we won’t be overcome with inexpressible sadness on that day when our unbelieving friends and family members are judged. We will, rather, be overjoyed at finally seeing our Saviour face-to-face. We will join with our countless brothers and sisters, arrayed in our new resurrected bodies, and rejoice in the complete fulfillment of our constant prayer, “Your kingdom come, and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10).
Don’t let culture be the measuring rod of what you can and cannot believe in terms of your faith. Similarly, don’t let culture censor your mouth when you want (actually, you need) to share “tough” truths.
Don’t be afraid to let Scripture speak. The word of God is not a dull plastic sword that stays in its sheath – trapped under a glass counter in a pawn shop in a rural town. The word of God, rather, “is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
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