It is not everyday that a pandemic interrupts what we call normal. It is not everyday that people wear masks and hide in their homes. Not everyday that the economy collapses. It’s not everyday that you worry if you or someone you love might get a deadly disease.
Yet that seems to be the new normal. While scrolling the popular shows or movies on my movie streaming services I’m seeing more and more plague or apocalypse related movies. All over the news are terrifying reports and words that leave us in a panic. The very word ‘pandemic’ means a WORLDWIDE epidemic. Coronavirus has swept over our land and we keep seeing all these scary words.
So one might think – is this it? Is this the end of the world? Surely it’s not just me who has thought this. Like a shadow looming over us you can’t help but wonder, “Will this stop, or is this the end of the world?”
Personally I feel very blessed in the way that the coronavirus epidemic has impacted me so far. My fiance and I had to postpone our big wedding celebration which was supposed to be May 25th. That being said, we decided to just go ahead and get married – after all, it’s about a marriage not the wedding. The current plan is a super intimate wedding and utilizing technology to virtually bring in our wedding party and immediate family (Be on the lookout for wedding photos!). Of course I’ve shed many tears about this change of plans, but at the end of the day I know a lot of people have it worse and my heart aches for all the stories I’ve heard so far from my friends and family. My prayers are with you.
I’m also selfishly thankful that this pandemic is happening now, and not 6+ years ago, because of where I was back then. For those of you who don’t know, I was raised in a cult called The Message, or Branhamism. I stopped believing in the cult’s teachings in 2014, and am now a born again Christian, saved by grace.
In The Message ‘the end times’ were a topic often discussed and predicted. I’m used to thinking that the world is going to end soon. I was used to hearing about rash decisions being made because people wanted to experience something before the end. I was used to feeling a shadow hanging over me and my future. I was used to saying things like “When I go to college – if the world doesn’t end first – then I’ll pursue art”, “If the world doesn’t end before I’m 18, then that’s when I’ll move out.” or “I wonder if the world will end before I get married” etc…
Matthew 24:36 ESV “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”
Yet the worst feeling would be thinking that the rapture would happen and I would miss the boat. We were told that we needed to ‘experience’ the Holy Spirit to know if we were part of the Chosen Few. We had to pray hard, seek God, and keep asking Him for the illusive out-of-this-world experience that they taught was the Holy Spirit. This haunting teaching would keep me and other people I knew up at night; wondering, praying, crying, and hyperventilating. We were told horrible renditions of the ‘Tribulation Period’ A 7 year long time span where unspeakable horrors would face the remaining human race. We were told possible reasons for why we hadn’t received the holy spirit yet, and before people ‘experienced’ this, we would be consumed by shame. I won’t get into the theology of why this interpretation of the Holy Spirit is so Biblically wrong in this blog post (sometime soon), but what I will say is this: A religion that claims to be a sect of Christianity but says that you need to earn something in order to not miss the rapture misses the point of what the Christian gospel is.
Acts 2:38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
The gospel is that Jesus Christ gave his only son as a sacrifice for our sins. We all have sinned and fallen short, but Jesus justified us before God, paying the penalty for the commandments we have broken. This salvation, eternity, and Holy Spirit is a FREE GIFT (Acts 2:38) to all who repent of their sins, believe in Jesus, and ask Him to be their savior. That is the gospel truth, and that’s why even though a bunch of scary words are being said by the news, if you believe in Jesus and what He’s done for you, you don’t need to worry. There’s nothing you need to earn, your debt is paid, you can be confident in where you are going.
1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
In conclusion, as a Christian, if it is the end of the world you shouldn’t worry. Of course these times are scary – I’m not downplaying that. As someone who is often riddled with anxiety myself and have experienced crippling panic attacks in the not too distant past, I’m no stranger to being terrified. What I am saying is that we are all going to die at some point, and we don’t know when that is. Likewise we can’t possibly know when the true end of the world is (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32), but we can take comfort in knowing that our heavenly father who takes care of us does know. Ask yourself if you know where you’re going, and if you do know, you can take comfort in Him. Philippians 1:21 says “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” That is a comfort to me, and I hope it is to you too.
Romans 5:1 ESV Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
For those of you who are from The Message who are reading this, my heart goes out to you. That is why I wanted to share my experience of ‘the end times’ while I was in The Message. You don’t have to live in fear. There is a better way, His name is Jesus, and He cares for you. His gift of salvation is a free gift to all who believe.
Romans 8:38-39 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.