A: Yes, the Bible does indicate that as the time for Christ's return approaches, evil and social chaos may well intensify. The Bible says that “evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13).
Are we living in those days? Only God knows the answer to that; the Bible makes it clear that we aren't to predict the exact time of Christ's return or claim to know when it will happen. Jesus said, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Matthew 24:36). The world has faced terrible times before, and so have God's people.
At the same time, many of the signs or events that Jesus said must take place before His return are certainly in place. Never before, for example, has it been possible to penetrate virtually every corner of the world with the Gospel, as Jesus predicted (see Matthew 24:14).
Make it your goal to be faithful to Christ, no matter what happens in the world around you. We may be tempted to withdraw, or to react negatively to those who don't agree with us. But God loves them, and He wants to use us to share the good news of Christ's forgiveness and new life with them. Remember Jesus' words: "As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work" (John 9:4).
Q: Our pastor just announced that he's retiring in a few months. I guess we shouldn't be surprised since he's been here over 30 years, but he's deeply loved and we can't imagine anyone taking his place. Should we try to talk him into staying? —J.W.
A: No doubt your pastor has prayed about this and sought God's will concerning his future — and if he truly believes God has led him to take this step, then you should be supportive of his decision. Even if he did decide to stay, eventually you'd be forced to find someone to take his place.
No one had a greater impact for Christ than the Apostle Paul — and few ministers of the Gospel were more deeply loved. But even the Apostle Paul knew his work must come to an end: "The time has come for my departure" (2 Timothy 4:6). He knew he wasn't indispensable, and he was confident that God would raise up others (like his young friend Timothy) to carry on the work. May this be your attitude as well.
Thank God for the faithful ministry of your pastor; may your congregation let him know of their love and respect. It can be very difficult to be a pastor, and I'm afraid some congregations fail to appreciate and honor those God has sent to minister among them. King Saul was far from perfect — but David rightly said, "Who can lay a hand on the Lord's anointed and be guiltless?" (1 Samuel 26:9).
Seek God's will for your church's future — and encourage others to do the same. Then trust Him to guide you to the person He has chosen to lead you in the future. When he comes, welcome him and pray for him and do all you can to support him.
Send your queries to “My Answer,” c/o Billy Graham, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, 1 Billy Graham Parkway, Charlotte, N.C., 28201; call 1-(877) 2-GRAHAM, or visit www.billygraham.org.