Life in a rented world
David Bahn-Reflections Podcast
Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. 8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming. 9 The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
– 2 Thessalonians 2:1-10 [ESV]
In his book Nothing to be Frightened About, Julian Barnes, writes about his encounter with mortality at a young age:
“It is like being in an unfamiliar hotel room, where the alarm clock has been left on the previous occupant’s setting, and at some ungodly hour you are suddenly pitched from sleep into darkness, panic, and a vicious awareness that this is a rented world.”
Barnes realizes that he is powerless to change the settings on that ubiquitous and jarringly uninvited hotel room alarm clock. So are we.
But few people today are engaged in any meaningful way by a question of life after death. We used to be able to engage people with the Kennedy evangelism, “If you were to die tonight, would you go to heaven?” But not today. Seems the world doesn’t care about this anymore. That’s your truth, they say. But sometimes there is that rude, and uninvited hotel alarm.
A spouse dies. A friend gets fired. The doctor calls asking you to go to the hospital … immediately. A bill comes due. You’re left without the necessary resources to make life work as it always had before. These are God’s wake-up calls. I’ve had a few over the years. Medical reports. Relational troubles. Vocational challenges. Spiritual struggles. In every case God wants our hearts; not just the right answers to theological questions; not just outward compliance.
We who love the truth, thank God for these reminders that we live in a rented world. For our hope is not properly tied to any earthly thing. We’re not there yet. Turmoil, trouble, and confusion is God’s way of inviting us to repent and believe the Good News of Jesus’ love, life, grace, and salvation. Let no one confuse you about that, nor deceive you into believing there is any answer other than God’s true promises in this rented world. A promise that is centered in Jesus, secured by his life, death, and resurrection, and will be fully enjoyed in the life of the world to come. Jesus will come again at the End of All time and receive us to live with him forever.