Tale of Two Solutions

Generation Gap or Jesus Gap?

For years I have been in an echo chamber saying;  

“The church must capture this generation for Jesus before we lose them!”

And for years the church has tried to do so in creative ways, but to what end?

Before you label me as a complaining critic with a grudge, I need to say that I believe the Church—that Jesus said He would build—is God’s answer to a world in turmoil. The faith of Jesus’ followers has turned countless peoples from barbaric to civilized. Warring nations have become peaceful, hospitals and schools were built in barren lands, widows and orphans have been cared for, and the downcasts have found hope.

Christian generosity is still at work for the good of many.

But isn’t it fair to say that something has been lost or forgotten in the Christian culture? Is the church shaping the world, or is the world the church?

It has become common to say that these things are to be expected as we approach Jesus’ return. Clearly, there are many signs that would validate that we are in a season that Jesus called “birth pains.” Oftentimes the mention of the outward signs is accompanied by hope, indicating the rapture of the church is near. This brings a sigh of relief, but what if there are signs that are less obvious that need to occur before His return–signs that require action on the part of the church, which may require self-examination and correction.

After all, Jesus is returning for His Bride, who has made herself ready.

It seems that for the last two-plus years, every day I watched the news, I have said,

“It can’t get any worse!” 

And then it does, and it does, and it does.

But last week, I put the brakes on.

The US Surgeon General came out with these findings:

Finally, I agree with a government finding.

I wish that I didn’t but the evidence is in the faces of people all around us. He went on to say that the degree of loneliness has become the cause of a rapid rise in anxiety attacks, immunity-related illnesses, and a major factor of overall health risk–even worse than cigarettes.

Jesus said that in the last days, hearts would fail because of the fear of what is next.

Accompanied by that birth pain was another—there will be a great falling away.

If the Surgeon’s statistics are accurate that means that if you are not lonely, the chances are your spouse is. In other words, this hits home.

How does this affect the Bride, who is preparing to meet Jesus?

What does it mean that “the Bride makes herself ready?

This, to me, is the greatest miracle in the Bible. It doesn’t say God makes ready, but we do. It even describes a bride without spots or wrinkles. Are we there yet?

Maybe it’s because I am a guy, but I have a hard time picturing the Bride of Jesus mentioned in the Bible, as sitting in front of a makeup mirror. I think it is more accurate to picture her preparing those around her for His return.

There are other passages, in fact several, that speak of things regarding Israel, which will transpire before Jesus returns. Christian bible teachers usually assign them to post-rapture events, not this present age. I think that is a big gamble and a poor assumption.

Put that aside for now, because I want to bring out another sign that describes the atmosphere preceding the “day of the Lord,” which is when He returns. I believe it is the antidote to the epidemic of loneliness that has been missing for too long.

It’s called the fellowship of believers.

It is how the church began to impact their world and the way it will culminate in the Redemption story.

It is recorded in the book of Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament. He speaks of an atmosphere that will be evident in the last days. Israel was then living in a time when it seemed God was not with them. The wicked were prospering and the arrogant appeared to be blessed. The prophet provides another picture, one that is very promising.

Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name. ( 3:16)

We don’t know what they said, but we know it was enough to get God’s attention and act upon it. Clearly, it wasn’t casual or small talk. Their conversation came out of their relationship with God and with each other. It was meaningful and life-giving, but I believe it was also strategic.

They understood the times and realized their responsibility before God. It wasn’t the circumstances they feared, but it was He. They were not afraid, nor were they arrogant. They were having fellowship. God was in their midst and they knew it.

He goes on to say;

“They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him.

Notice he doesn’t say He will remove them. If he does, the world will have no hope and the wicked will consume those who remain.

Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.  (v.18)

It is the same visible distinction God made between His people and the Egyptians.

He protected them and provided for them. He goes on;

And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts. (4:3)

It reminds me of Psalm 91:13

You will tread on the lion and the adder;

the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

In fact, I think the entire Psalm is an end-time scenario, written to bring confidence and determination to those who fear God. The one that has held my attention recently is

verse 15.

When he calls to me, I will answer him,

I will be with him in trouble,

I will rescue him and honor him.

My name in Hebrew means ‘God is my rescue.’ The other day I looked up the word ‘rescue’ in this verse. It is not the same word but its meaning captured my attention.

As many times it means to deliver, it also means, to arm” as in arm yourselves for battle.

Our society is struck with fear and loneliness. The effect has been a flood of violence, lawlessness, suicide, and despair. No one has an answer to this nationwide dilemma.

No one, that is except for Jesus and His followers.

But what do we do?

In our attempts at bringing the younger generation to church, we got better seating, lighting, and sound systems. We shortened the service and added refreshments, yet we have no fellowship.

Fellowship is deep and satisfying. It is meaningful and leads to action. It also causes things to happen, and people will take notice of the distinction that God makes.

*But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing

*You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.

Perhaps even best of all, our children will take notice and be drawn to Kingdom purposes, for He will close the generation gap and bring fellowship into our homes.

And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers. (4:6)

When this generation sees that the church is not just a place we go to, but a movement filled with purpose and a cause, they will be drawn to join us.

Fellowship is born of the spirit, in those preparing their hearts and minds for Kingdom living. Yes, loneliness has settled in, but we need not give it room to lodge.

Relationships are the currency of God’s Kingdom. Developing them takes time, but the world longs for the freedom it offers. We cannot pass them by. Begin in your church but don’t avoid your neighbors.

God awaits a people called by His name in fellowship with one another with the intent to make Him known. The Bride of Yeshua is a blend of Jewish and Gentile believers living it out together in preparation for His return. The enemy will flee when he sees that we are armed and dangerous in Jesus’ name.

And the lonely will find their place in His dwelling.

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