Now after John [the Baptist] was arrested and taken into custody, Jesus went to Galilee, preaching the good news of [the kingdom of] God, and saying, “The [appointed period of] time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, regret past sins, live your life in a way that proves repentance; seek God’s purpose for your life] and believe [with a deep, abiding trust] in the good news [regarding salvation].”
In the entire sweep of history, God could have chosen any moment or place for Christ to step out of eternity into time, but He chose a backwater Roman province two thousand years ago, before the era of mass communication. If it had been our decision, we might have chosen a time when we could see Christ’s every move on CNN, but God had a different agenda. The pinnacle of human history took place at the time of His place and choosing, not ours, and people had the opportunity to believe in Him.
In the same way, every person has a time and place where the gospel comes to him or her, and a choice is offered. Paul later wrote that God gives enough light to every person to respond to God, so no one has an excuse(Romans 1:19-20). Jesus didn’t come with a slick, convincing advertising campaign. He came as a humble, itinerant preacher with a ragtag band of followers. And today, He comes to people in the form of a friend reaching out to say, “Hey, I care about you. Let me tell you the best news I’ve ever heard.” And when they hear the news of God’s love, it’s time for a decision.
I believe the greatest single mistake Christians make is not using sales knowledge and common sense in spreading the word about the benefits of walking through this life with Jesus Christ.
There are those moments in time when windows of opportunity are opened to humans by a divine decision of God. Many factors come into play at these moments and all of them are orchestrated by God. Consider, for example, the stage that God set for the coming of Christ and the founding of the church. Years before Christ came, the Romans rose up and conquered the world. Because it was one empire, roads were built, guarded, and made available for travel. Not that it was easy or without danger from bandits, but the ease of moving from country to country assisted in the spread of the gospel. The Romans had made Greek the common language so communication was much easier. While there were many religions, Rome embraced them all, allowing each conquered nation to continue worshipping the god of their choice, thereby giving the Jews the opportunity to continue their worship as had been done for centuries. Herod, the Roman appointed governor had even rebuilt the temple. All of us know the story of Jesus’ birth and it was due to taxation registration that Joseph and Mary were in Bethlehem when He was born. God was orchestrating the whole thing. The crucifixion was a Roman capital punishment that had been introduced to them by the Phoenicians around 3B.C. All of this and the world events surrounding Christ’ work of redemption are clearly the plan and work of God. When Christ came, the earth was filled with darkness. Slavery, cruelty, hatred, and a whole array of social ills filled the land. Hopelessness and fear and cynicism were common among the people. Freedom and peace were only vague dreams. Religious rituals were empty bondages that left the practitioners unfulfilled and only the elite seemed to benefit from them. Ordinary people seemed to be overlooked and often oppressed by their own people. The Bible tells us the at the appointed time, God sent His Son into the world and what a moment that was. He literally turned it upside down. Following in His steps the disciples continued to be a breath of fresh air as they made known the God of grace and mercy. They spoke of the goodness, the love and the care of God. Their God was no angry, uncaring, vengeful God. Indeed, He was kind and gentle- no breaking the bruised reed. One might say it was just in time.
Earlier in Scriptures, we read of Esther who had been chosen to be the king’s wife was moved to intercede for them so that Haaman could not execute them. We read of Joseph who God placed in Pharaoh’s palace just in time to save his family and the nation from starvation. Throughout history God has continually chosen a time to intervene in the affairs of men.
I believe that we are in one of those times when God is appointing a moment in time. We are in an era of great communication that’s available to the whole world. The common language is English. We are mostly at peace making the spread of the gospel easier. We are certainly in dark days and the hearts of people lie in fear, worry, and doubt. The lack of interest in unfulfilling church rituals and the cry from the millennials for authenticity and relevancy is almost a repeat of the times of Jesus’ day. If there has ever been a moment for the church to rise to the challenge in the 21st century, surely this is that time. I believe we are in a “God-moment” and you and I are living in that moment. I believe that God wishes to move powerfully in the world in this present age, but He’s waiting on us. Joel, the prophet proclaimed that in the last days, God would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh. He declared that our children would speak for God and that both male and female would be His voices. He told us that this outpouring would be available to all, without exception.
So, dear Christian, in light of these things, will you make this the time that you open your heart and soul to God? Will you seek His will and obey His call? Will you be the spark that ignites the fire of revival and renewal in the church and the drawing of those who don’t know Christ to Him? Will we seize the moment or will be be like Jerusalem who didn’t know the time of its visitation?
Dr. John Thompson