When Lawlessness Increases
AUGUST 6, 2016
Just this morning I awakened to the news that two more police officers had been shot…this time in my own city. As I scrolled through my Twitter feed, I read other accounts of political corruption at the highest levels of government, and terror attacks around the world.
But that’s not all: I also awakened to my own lawlessness. I recognized within my own heart a selfishness and inconsistency that simultaneously courted proud self-righteousness. And that’s nothing new.
While it’s true that the 24 hour, second-by-second news cycle is something unique, and while the world has certainly gone through more tumultuous times than these, the propensity to lose heart grows with every report of lawlessness. And those reports just never stop.
Something has happened to our collective consciousness when we have to stifle a yawn when only two police officers are gunned down or when a once-respected Christian leader steps down in disgrace and we barely bat an eye. The ability to be outraged by evil and enflamed with love for God and neighbor has always been inclined to grow weaker and weaker in the face of pervasive wickedness. So Jesus himself warned, “And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold” (Matt 24:12).
Apart from the work of the Spirit endowing believers with grace, continual battering with news of lawlessness will create apathy and faithlessness. I feel it in my own heart. There’s a “Oh well…who cares…everything’s so far gone now, why not just give up?” refrain playing louder and louder there every day.
What’s the answer to this creeping apathy and unbelief? Remembering two things: First that there will be an end to all this evil and secondly, that in the meantime we’re to be getting about the work of preaching the gospel.
A world is coming wherein righteousness will dwell. We’ll never awaken to a story about death or betrayal or duplicity. The world to come will be filled with life and faithfulness and love. It will be filled with friendships and joyous learning and exhilarating work and it will never be subject to the curse that our present age groans under. And we’ll never say, “I’m sick of this tired old place. I need something new,” because day by day the Lord will make everything new. Everything.
The incessant hammering away of the bad news will always tempt us to silence the Lord’s call on our life to continue preaching the good news. Shouldn’t we just move to a secure compound in the middle of nowhere and try to hang on till the end? After all, if this terrible place is about to get annihilated, why bother?
We should bother, we must bother, because the good that we do here won’t be left here to burn up. It will get transferred into the new world. All the acts of love and faith that we accomplish here will beautify the world to come and adorn the church with glory. Those beautiful robes we’ll wear will be woven from the righteous deeds of the saints, the mundane (yet faith-filled) things we do now when we’re tempted to give up! For…”’his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure’—for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints” (Rev 19:7-8).
This increasing darkness and lawlessness will tempt you to give in to it. Don’t. This world is in a terrible place, but this world isn’t all there is. Who knows what your faith and desire to good will accomplish in the world to come? Who knows how beautiful it will look there? Don’t give in to apathy. Don’t let your love grow cold. Good news and a righteous world is on its way.