But what would you think about a forecast that predicted temperatures several thousands of years in advance?
Some two thousand years ago the Son of God made such a forecast regarding moral and ethical temperature declines at the end of the present age, saying: “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12).
Perhaps there has always been evil in this world, and a resulting coldness in human hearts and interactions, but Christ clearly stated that there would come a time when the love of most would grow cold. The Greek expression (ton pollon) translated “of many” in some Bibles is better translated – as in the NIV – “of most” or “of the majority,” showing that this coldness was something that would eventually be widespread and would be the norm rather than the exception.
Spiritually, the problem our world faces is not global warming, but global cooling. We see this moral chill every day in news reports of atrocities committed not only by religious and political fanatics, but also even by parents against their own children and spouses against each other. Just as frightening is the fact that the immediate context of Christ’s forecast is not necessarily only talking about the unconverted of the world – it seems to apply to religious people as well.
If you or I heard a forecast of impending unbelievably cold physical temperatures, we would doubtless take action to do what we could to survive the situation and help offset the cold as best we could. But do we take Christ’s moral forecast seriously enough to take action in that regard? And what, if anything, can we do to offset the growing lack of love this world seems even now to be experiencing – and which unavoidably affects Christians also?
Fortunately, the same book that forecasts the cooling of love indicates things we can do to turn that climate change around, even if only in our own lives. Consider these four Christian climate warmers:
1) Forgiveness: The Gospel of John tells us the story of the woman who anointed Christ in the home of a disapproving Pharisee. Jesus told the Pharisee that although the woman had sinned much in her life, those who are forgiven much, love much (John 7:46-47). We can apply that principle to ourselves in terms of looking at those around us in the moral wilderness in which we live. As society worsens around us, it’s easy to become judgmental – like the Pharisee – if we are not careful. But reminding ourselves of how much we have been forgiven can help us feel and show more love to those whose lives are still in the grip of sin.
2) Prayer: We can and should be praying for God’s love, of course, but sometimes we have to remind ourselves to break that prayer down. Something that can help in this regard is to put names to the prayer. Praying for help to love person X and Person Y can be far more effective than praying for the “idea” of love. Try it and see for yourself.
3) Study: Regularly studying the life of Christ may be one of the most valuable climate warmers at our disposal. Actually seeing God’s love in living everyday action through the Gospel accounts of the life of Jesus shows us love in a way in which we don’t usually see it. It can help us by providing both a model and an inspiration. Notice these words of the apostle Paul: “… the goal of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith” (1 Timothy 1:5 Holman). Frequently focusing our study of God’s word on the topic of love becomes more important the colder society becomes around us.
4) Encouragement: The Book of Hebrews contains these important words: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds … encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:23-25). These verses make it clear that encouraging one another is directly related to spurring one another to love. The fact that this is said to be all the more vital as we see the end of the age approaching ties directly to Christ’s warning of the love of the majority growing cold in the last days.
In some ways these pointers seem so very basic, yet they are so very true. The Bible is clear that love is increased, fanned like a flame, by these specific things – and each one is something we can do personally if we are determined to do so. The important thing for us in the cooling world in which we live is to be sure to utilize them – to increase the love in our lives – and not to become numbed by the cold around us.