As a young child in church I heard little about grace and much about Hell, sin, and the dangers of Hell. As I entered into High School it seemed that the message began to turn and the ideas of grace, mercy, and love began to take off. However, I could not get over the idea that I must be good on this Earth so that I can enter Heaven. Heaven was always the goal and this world is not my home. Living on Earth has no real benefit and is basically just a testing period. If while I'm here I learn enough, don't cross the wrong lines, and have near perfect attendance at church then I can leave this forsaken place and get to heaven once I die. As an adult I realize quickly that there must be more to this world than just a place of testing and maybe even torture. I realize that grace is a gift, not a prize. I realize that Heaven will be a restoration of this Earth I'm on now. I realize that while Heaven waits for me, that earning my spot there is not my soul (pun intended) purpose of my existence on Earth. And yet, my inner, pew-sitting child fights all of these realizations and calls me to focus on my behavior and attendance, or even worse others' behavior and attendance.
When I read scripture I can see that God,Jesus, Spirit are all about truth. Satan, his demons, and those enticed by his evil are about lies. When you read the whole of scripture you are given a picture of a God who cares for other people, especially those who are in the most need. Scripture cries out for us to focus on this Earth and its creation just as much, if not more, than Heaven. I have found that completely fixated on the end allows for me to care less about the now. Fixating on the now allows for me to lose sight of the end. The now and the not yet must be in relationship.
When I preached on Jesus' return this past Sunday I spoke from studying the idea of the end, the now, and from my viewpoint given through scripture that these are both important. In the end I think there are lies that Satan is telling us about the end. Crazy enough, I don't believe Satan tells us that Jesus won't return. Maybe he tells that lie to those who don't believe in Jesus, but for those of us who believe and follow Christ that is not the lie he shares. He knows we won't give into that lie. Here are three lies (not an exhaustive list) that Satan tells about Jesus' return.
1. Jesus will return...just not for you
2. The return of Jesus isn't all that important
3. What we do now has nothing to do with the end.
Note: In my next post I unpack those three statements.