A number of years ago I was teaching at a Church-sponsored college, when a young man who had come from a distant land to study made a comment I still remember. He declared quite candidly that he had gained an interest in the Bible because of prophecy. He was curious about what the future held for him, and for this world. But now that he had come to study, he was a little daunted. “Now I have to do all the other stuff,” he told me.
I’ve long since lost contact with that man, but I can’t help but think of what he so forlornly said. In a way, I identified with what he had to say. You see, I, too, became interested in the study of the Word through prophecy. I was alarmed by the plight of the human race and comforted to learn that God knew of the threats to the survival of humankind, and that He was going to intervene at a time of great trouble and prevent humanity from destroying itself. The colorful details of beasts, plagues and tribulation horrified me. Yet I had to learn that serving God involves more than understanding mysteries about beasts; it does indeed involve “all the other stuff.”
“All the other stuff.” Indeed, Christianity is a way of life! It involves changing our way of living, confessing that God is right, that He has a claim to our lives, and subjecting ourselves to all of the guidance and laws that define right living, as recorded in the pages of the Bible.
It’s disappointing to realize that the majority of people simply refuse to make that kind of change, but it shouldn’t be surprising. It’s always been that way! Back in the sixth century B.C., the prophet Ezekiel was warned by God not to expect a positive reaction among those he preached to. “As for you, son of man, the children of your people are talking about you beside the walls and in the doors of the houses; and they speak to one another, everyone saying to his brother, ‘Please come and hear what the word is that comes from the LORD.’ So they come to you as people do, they sit before you as My people, and they hear your words, but they do not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their hearts pursue their own gain. Indeed you are to them as a very lovely song of one who has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument; for they hear your words, but they do not do them” (Ezekiel 33:30-32).
Poor Ezekiel! He preached for decades in Babylon, but got very little response. Yet he seemed to be in good company. Even the Lord Jesus Christ complained about people who showed fascination with His message, but failed to effect any change in their lives. “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). It’s a good question, isn’t it? How many today use the name of Jesus almost like a mantra and don’t even attempt to live up to His standards of ethical and godly conduct?
But what about you? Have you learned certain aspects of the biblical message, such as prophecy, but so far not applied basic Christian teachings to your life? If so, maybe it’s time to begin making changes.
My own fascination with prophecy continues to this day. Yet I had to learn that learning all the “stuff” of prophecy is no substitute for living the way of life brought by the greatest Prophet of all, Jesus Christ. As the apostle Peter asked, “Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness?” (2 Peter 3:11). In other words, if you know the prophecies of what is coming, shouldn’t that knowledge stir you to live in a godly way?
Christianity—it’s a way of life. It goes beyond fascination with the future. It’s about the here and now. It’s about living it. It’s time to learn and practice “all the other stuff”!
For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m Ralph Levy.