Friday, April 11, 2008

Strangers and Pilgrims

Then shall two be in the field, the one shall be taken,
and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill,
the one shall be taken, and the other left
Jesus, in Matthew 24:40-41

I tell you, in that night there shall be two men in one bed,
the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.
Two women shall be grinding together, the one shall be taken,
and the other left. Two men shall be in the field,
the one shall be taken, and the other left
Luke 17:34-36

Jesus is talking in these two Scriptures about the day he appears in the sky to “catch up” those who have been faithful to him. This event is often referred to as “the Rapture”, even though those words are not found in the Bible. When Jesus appears in the sky, the dead in Christ shall be raised up, and then they and the saints who are yet living will be taken up together to meet the Lord (1Thes. 15-17).

In the two verses above, Jesus is teaching something that is often overlooked; that is, that we need not withdraw ourselves from society in order to be prepared for the Lord’s appearing. You will notice that Jesus said that two women would be working together, but only one would be taken away, and that two men would be working together, “one shall be taken, and the other left”. This tells us that in order to prepare for the Lord’s return need not seclude themselves in caves or communes. Jesus was not a hermit, and neither were any of his disciples. They “mixed it up” with people.

Jesus also mentioned a home scene where there was “two men in one bed, the one shall be taken and the other left.” This teaches us that there is no need to completely detach oneself from unbelievers who are close to them, even relatives living in the same house. It is true that Jesus said he considered his family to be only those who did the will of his heavenly Father (Mt. 12:47-50); at the same time, when Jesus was in agony on the cross, he asked his disciple John to take care of his mother for him (Jn. 19:25-27). This tells us that although Mary was not among those who sat at Jesus’ feet listening to him (in fact, she probably was among Jesus’ relatives who thought he has lost his mind, Mk. 3:21), still he retained his “natural affections” for her and, I suppose, for the rest of his natural relatives. We know that after he ascending to the Father, his mother and his brothers were among those waiting in the upper room for the Promise to be sent (Acts 1:14).

We Cannot Do It

Years ago, the Lord warned me not to try to make myself “a stranger and a pilgrim”, but let him make me different from others because he is the only on who knows how to do that rightly. He told me that those who separate themselves from people are over-religious and are trying to make themselves strangers and pilgrims. And at the same time, he told me that whenever anyone tries to make himself a stranger and a pilgrim, he makes himself strange, but not in a godly way. In fact, he showed me, the harder we try to make ourselves strangers and pilgrims the more over-religious and weird we become. In other words, the harder we try, in our own power and wisdom, to become strangers and pilgrims in this world, the more we fit into it. Only the righteousness of God makes us truly different from this world.

The Lord does not want you to separate yourself from anyone, other than what he leads you to do, and the Scriptures are very plain about who to be separate from. The Lord wants you to trust in him and let him set your standards and be the Separator if there is any separation to be done. You never have to choose your company when you walk in the Spirit; God will choose your company for you.

Paul said that only those who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. I say, based on what the Lord has taught me, that those who try to separate themselves from the world only become more a part of it and the longer they stay away from people, the less likely they are to ever become sons of God.

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