Jesus Christ is hard at work (John 5:17) and this is what he’s up to:
I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. (John 10:16)
Jesus is working hard to gather the rest of his sheep that he “bought with his own blood” (Acts 20:28) and that are “scattered abroad” (John 11:52). This gathering is the main work that is happening in the world. All the great geopolitical events in the world are connected to this mission, though the world doesn’t know it.
But the church on earth, the sheep that are in the fold already, must remember this truth.
It’s what history is all about and it’s why we are still here, participating in this work with him.
It’s why God installs and removes rulers.
It’s why economies surge and crash.
It’s why church planting and missionary doors open and close.
It’s why gospel awakening breaks out in one place and persecution breaks out in another.
And as Jesus’s mission moves steadily toward its fulfillment, he tells us what we are to expect:
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:9–14)
We can be at peace despite major cultural shifts, moral decline, political upheaval, war, natural disasters, disease, and increasing hostility to the gospel (Romans 8:35) because we know that “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37), through him who loved us to the point of his own death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). And we know that all these things “must take place” (Matthew 24:6). All that is happening right now, no matter how concerning and God-belittling and destructive, will not prevent, but in fact will have some role in facilitating, the gospel proclamation throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations.
As the official defenders of American justice codify immorality as the law of the land, God wants us to stir up our minds (2 Peter 3:1) — to remember — so that we don’t lose sight of the gospel and the real purpose of history. Remembering what’s really going on is what keeps us from losing heart and hope and retreating into our private escapes and growing cynical. Jesus died to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) and he is relentlessly seeking each one he’s determined to save (Luke 19:10) until the full number has come in (Romans 11:25).
So despite the appropriate grief we experience over the new calamity, we can abound in hope (Romans 15:13). Because what’s really going on is that Jesus is bringing in all his sheep, and they will listen to his voice. And then the end will come.