Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.
Matthew 24: 4-5 (NIV)
I am one of the people who start their day listening to the news. Lately, the newscast seems more like an apocalyptic report than the news. It is difficult to listen to what is happening in the world without thinking about the words of Christ in Matthew 24. His disciples were in awe of seeing the beautiful Temple in Jerusalem and shared their admiration with Christ. Instead of commenting on the Temple, the Lord shared with them a prophecy about the last days.
Jesus began his prophecy with a warning. He told them, "Be careful that no one deceives you because many will tell you I am the Christ, and will deceive many." Here, Christ was not talking about his twelve apostles, but about the millions of disciples who would follow Him after His resurrection. Throughout history many men have risen up saying they are the Messiah, and although it may seem difficult to believe it, they have deceived thousands. However, I believe that false prophets do not so easily deceive believers who read the Bible. These believers know that the Messiah already came, and that He will not return as a simple carpenter, but as the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Currently, the devil is not presenting the church with false Messiahs, but a false image of the true Christ. Servants of God, in the last decade some have stopped preaching the Christ of the Bible and have begun to preach a gospel mixed with worldly tendencies. We have moved away from any message that talks about the price of following Christ and we talk about a Christ who offers the success that the world seeks. We preach a Christ who promises abundance, popularity, influence, and equality.
In 1 Corinthians 2:2, Paul tells us, "for I did not intend to know anything among you, except Jesus Christ, and him crucified." Children of God, I think it is time to ask ourselves, what Christ are we following? Do we follow a popular Christ or the crucified Christ? The Christ who died on Calvary’s cross was not popular; on the contrary, He lived a somewhat lonely life. That Christ was born among the poor and lived among the poor. He was not accepted but misunderstood. In fact, He was not looking for popularity. He never performed miracles to be seen, but out of compassion for those who suffered. He never sought power; the Bible tells us that He humbled Himself to death.
The Christ who died on the cross asks us to take up our own cross each day and follow Him. The Christ preached in many places today is a Christ who promises to lead us to the pinnacle of success. What Christ do you follow? Many have stopped preaching the full gospel for fear of losing members. Many do not preach anything sad or negative for fear of discouraging the People of God. If we continue like this, we are going to build on the sand and not on the Rock. Such a church is not going to prevail when the storms come.
The church of the last days must be strong and powerful not by avoiding suffering, but by enduring it. Christ does not promise us an easy life, but the grace to pass through fire and through stormy waters. Only the weak, empowered by God, can truly say, “In Him I am strong”. Child of God, if you are following the crucified Christ, your foundation is the Rock and glorious days await you. Maybe you must go through the valley of the shadow of death, but you do not have to fear evil, because you know in whom you trust. Pastor, you may never be famous, and your church may not have thousands, but glorious will be the day when you see your entire congregation in heaven, our promised land.
I am one of those people who believe that the promises of the Bible work for those who work them. I do not live expecting tragedies but blessings, but I also have a very clear understanding of which Christ I am following.