The End is Near
Our pastor has has been leading us on a journey over the past several months. We have been looking at the Bible from creation to the early church through the complementary and unified lenses of covenant and kingdom. All of our history, our present and our future fits into either our covenant-or relationship with God as His children-or our kingdom responsibility received when we commit to life as His follower.
Today we looked at Paul. At the end of the book of Acts, he is nearing the end of his life. There is no greater figure apart from Jesus himself, in the New Testament than Paul. He has written the majority of the text, and few could argue that there is a better story than his “road to Damascus” conversion for sending shivers up the spine and dropping you to your knees at what the grace of God can do.
Today when Pastor Chris read from 2Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race and I have remained faithful. And now the prize awaits me-the crown of righteousness…”-I felt a sense of wonder at Paul’s words. He is confident that despite his years of sin where he actively fought a fight AGAINST Jesus,now as his death approaches he knows the grace that is his- simply through his covenant struck with his Lord on that Damascus road. He has a confidence that all that he has done is good enough-his kingdom responsibility has been well lived out in his faithful life.
So what about you and me? Will we be able to say the same with confidence when our end is near? How can we be sure that when we have finished the race, we will be able to say that we have remained faithful? What do we need to do to ensure that like Paul,we have confidence that at the end we too will receive the “crown of righteousness”?Fortunately for you and I, the rewards that Paul looks forward to are not reserved for only the Giants of the faith. They are for all who believe in Jesus and seek after His will for their lives.
In practical terms this says to me that like any relationship I am in, my relationship with Jesus does involve some effort on my part. Like any relationship I cherish and value, it involves regular communication. So therefore, I spend time in prayer-not just once a day-but often throughout the day while I’m driving, working, living-because that’s how I communicate with Jesus and He with me.
Another way that I am running this race, is by continuing to allow the Holy Spirit to shape me into the image of Jesus. Sometimes I am prompted to obey when really I want to turn and run screaming the other way. But that is not remaining faithful.
When my end is near, I want the people who know me to say that my life was a life worth imitating. I want them to say that I lived out my everyday walking around life and my life with Jesus exactly the same. I want them to say that I was a light in this world.
Paul knew that his end was near but for you and I, we may not have that forsight. We may not get the chance to evaluate and reflect on our races run, our fights fought. Are you confident that your crown of righteousness is waiting for you. It’s not too late to pick up the pace today.