If you study the Book of Revelation, you discover that in many ways it’s a book about judgments. It begins with judgments or commendations upon God’s own people. This is appropriate since we read in 1 Peter 4:17 that God intends for judgment to begin with His people.
As you read through Revelations, you discover the heinous things the world has done against God’s people. These egregious offenses occur for different reasons: sometimes to stop believers from spreading the gospel, other times they are done to damage or destroy God’s glory on earth, or in some way to inflict pain upon God by hurting His children.
As you go through the book, I believe that you may come to a point of feeling angst regarding the mindless hatred and cruelty that is cast upon those who put their faith solely in Christ for salvation. You may stand back and cry out “halleluiah” when judgment is rained down upon those who persecute, imprison, or murder other human beings, simply because they love and put their trust in the God of Abraham.
I understand, and I can relate. But I cannot help but have sympathy and sorrow for those who have been caught up in the web of darkness that is cast by the great deceiver, Satan. Whether it’s an individual rebelling against God, or those who buy into an attack organized by such entities as Babylon the Great, or the one referred to as the anti-Christ, we must realize that they and every other person who does not put their faith in the Messiah for eternal salvation, are lost for all eternity.
Who were and who are these people? They were all defenseless infants at the beginning of their lives. They were all children, playing in the streets of the cities where they grew up. Many of them had loving parents who had great hopes that they would live out their lives under better circumstances and conditions than their parents, just as I imagine you have for your children. Many of them likely had their own hopes and dreams.
Clearly, and sadly, they make choices that affect the eternal outcome of their lives. They chose to live out their lives without a true relationship with God based on faith and trust in His promises, and because of that, they will experience an eternity without God and His joy. They may have participated in persecuting believers. But considering what awaits them because of their lack of a relationship with the only true God, I must say, how sad.
These were and are all people created in God’s image. These are all people that God does not desire to see perish. These are all people who Jesus died for so that salvation would be available if they would just believe the promises God made from the beginning of the human race. How can I not be sad?
Some of you may think that I am in some way turning my back on the glory of God to feel sympathy and compassion for those who hate God’s people. But what if they were your sons? What if they were your daughters? To be honest, some of them may well be.
Certainly you would know they had made their choices; they made their bed, and now they will have to lie in it — for all eternity. But certainly your heart would be broken for them. How could you be a loving parent, and not be sad for them? If the love of God dwells within you, how can you not also be sad for those who are not your children?
What would you do if you could go back and intervene? What wouldn’t you redo if it could have made a difference? The truth is you may never be able to make a difference for your children if they won’t listen to you, or if they have already left this life, but there are others in this world who are someone else’s sons or daughters for whom you could make a difference in their life for Christ.
Sometimes our children are beyond our reach simply because they are our children, and might not listen. Nonetheless, maybe someone else can reach them for Christ. Wouldn’t you hope that someone else would reach out to your loved ones with Christ?
In the same way, you can reach out to someone else’s child or parent or grandparent. God may give you many opportunities to make a difference for Christ in the life of another.
Why have I written this article? Because if you are a believer, Roman 5:10 says that at one time you were an enemy of God. Nonetheless, others reached out to you with the love of Christ, and now you will never experience the torment of eternal separation from God. Considering who all these unbelievers are, people who but for the grace of God you and I would still be one of, considering what awaits them, I pray you would be motivated to reach out to them with the love of Christ, no matter how “good” they might consider themselves to be, or even if they say they hate God and His people.
Let us have the compassion and willingness to make such a difference. That is what the love of God manifested through the power of the gospel is intended to be all about.
Jon McCartney is pastor of First Baptist Church of Tooele.