19th September 2012
What Time Is It?
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that ALL should come to repentance.”
2 Peter 3.9 (NKJV)
A few years ago a friend of mine died from lung cancer in his early fifties. He had been a lifelong smoker and now the tumours in his lungs were draining his life away. We both knew the end was near. “You know” he said in a quiet, raspy voice, “I often meant to quit but I always thought I had more time.” I recognized a tragic truth in those words – and also how emblematic it is of our human condition. Many, if not most of us, live in a state of denial. We’re forever promising ourselves that one day we’ll change a bad habit, lose weight, start exercising, return to school, read the Bible, find out about God, or do something to change the predictable course of our lives. Sadly most of us run out of time before ‘someday’ arrives. A few, of course, do have the drive, desire and discipline to change their future for the better.
Because of our human tendency to drift along, some churches and ministers become frustrated when people don’t respond, and paint an ever blacker picture of the future if we don’t repent of our sins and turn to God. Some churches even teach that NOW is the only day of salvation and there will come a day when our time has run out and God will reject us. Of course we must respect the sincerity of people who preach this, but also ask the question ‘What time is it?’ Is the future bleak? Is now the only day of salvation?
God knows the weakness and frailty of human beings, knows our limitations, yet the Bible tells us that He still loves us. Would a loving God set a time limit on our salvation? Would a loving God cut us off at a certain time in our life, or even at our death?
The Bible is good news. It paints a bright future ahead for all humanity. God, in the person of Jesus Christ, has done what we cannot. Jesus lived a perfect life, never sinned, knew exactly what time it was. Time for him to lay down his life to pay the death penalty for every human who has ever lived or will ever live. But Jesus was also resurrected and today sits at the right hand of God the Father as our high priest, intercessor and soon coming King.
I strongly believe that there are positive benefits in reading your Bible, going to church and developing a relationship with God. But we know, as God knows, that many people will want to do those things but never quite get round to it. The good news is that there is no time limit, no point at which you are cut off from God. The Bible not only talks about life after death (Hebrews 9.27), and promises eternal life for Christians, but also of a time when all humanity will be responsive to God.
It’s always a good time to find out about God and his plan for your future, and we would be delighted to welcome you to one of our regular weekly services. But the answer to the question, What time is it? is up to you. We may run out of time to change our bad habits, weight, fitness levels or the direction of our lives but we will never run out of time to respond to God. God loves you!
Father, how awesome is your plan and your love for humanity. How incredible that even death cannot separate us from you. Fill our hearts with a desire to know you, now in this physical life, and to trust that those who do not respond now will have their opportunity in the future, even after their physical death.
Study by Keith Hartrick