• Hughson T. Ong

Faith and the Coming Kingdom amidst the Year 2020 Crises

The year 2020 has brought forth a series of tragedies and conflicts including the #coronavirus outbreak that will be remembered as some of history’s worst nightmares. They are changing once again the very fabric of our society, curtailing human freedom, pressuring us to conform to new social patterns and practices, and threatening the collapse of our global economy.

It will be harder for those who reject the Bible to see the repercussions of these global events and how it relates to the kingdom of God. But for Christ followers, we understand that the kingdom of God has become nearer and more palpable more than ever. In light of these global catastrophes, where do we find our faith and what is the condition of our faith? Let me explain my perspective on this topic through the lenses of Scripture.

From Prophecy to Reality: The Rivalry of Two Kingdoms

There are numerous passages in the New Testament, especially in the Gospels and the book of Revelation, that remind us of the consummation of the kingdom of God. Consider this excerpt from the Parable of the Weeds in Mt. 13:36-43: “The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age...As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age...Whoever has ears, let them hear.” This parable paints a clear portrait of the kingdom of God, which has begun some 2,000 years ago. But where is this kingdom of God today?

This kingdom is disappearing from our sight because our eyes have been so fixated at the emergence of another kingdom that progressively rivals this old kingdom. Even us—Bible believers and Christians—have been mesmerized by the allures of this new kingdom, propagated by the rise of the internet and social media. Little do we realize that we are being slowly enslaved by this rival kingdom because of our insatiable hunger for virtually everything it offers. Things like e-commerce, e-learning, e-banking, and other e-services have become our society’s way of life. The convenience of all these e-stuff, along with our sophisticated, cosmopolitan freedom, makes us feel that our world is becoming a more secure and loftier place to live.

But think carefully about the “freedoms” you enjoy today. Are you sure that they are freedoms that you actually possess? Think hard. And think again. I hope that you will soon recognize that these are just illusory freedoms that serve as catalysts for what is actually the enslavement of humanity (Rev. 13:16-17).

Red Flags in Our Current Crises

Misfortunes threaten our very life and, more importantly, our faith. The year 2020 started with a series of natural disasters and ill-fated geopolitical events. These geopolitical events demonstrate, quite clearly, where our world is heading. The murder of Gen. Qassem Soleimani (January 3), Trump’s peace plan (January 28), the formalization of Brexit (January 31), the ongoing civil unrest in Iraq and Lebanon (since late 2019), and the protracted trade war between China and the United states (since 2018) remind us once more of the words Jesus said in his Olivet discourse. Of course, we have to grasp how these pieces of events fit into the kingdom-of-God puzzle.

Conspiracy theory? Hardly. The Fourth Industrial Revolution ushered in an era where the physical, digital, and biological worlds have converged and is now ready to introduce the new proposal of “what it means to be human.” The next revolution is already on the horizon. All these future high-tech innovations—AI, 6G, ID 2020, universal vaccination, etc.—will come to fruition. Certainly, the initial outcome will be majestic, but the long-term effect would mean further forfeiture of human privacy, surrendering control of our possessions, the stigmatization of those who refuse to follow the #NewNormal, and the loss of our distinctive culture and tradition?

See, at the end of the day, what is the objective of all these technological advancements? Is there an end to all these achievements? What is the end game?

Our Faith amidst this Global Crisis

What have these great feats cost us? Before I answer this question, let us remember that Christ followers are eagerly waiting for the Second Coming. This is the single, most important fact that will set everything in the proper perspective. Regardless of our individual view on biblical prophecy, we all anticipate the coming kingdom of God.[1]

So, one of the great costs Christ followers have paid is the degeneration of their faith. Revelation 3:16 says that we have become “lukewarm” in our faith that Christ is “about to spit us out of his mouth.” Our faith has become lukewarm because we are “rich and well-fed” (Rev. 3:15-18). The convenience, security, and comfort this world continues to offer us have become our life source and support. We have forgotten our Creator and what he has told us since the beginning. He promised us that the kingdom he established through his Son will one day become our eternal home (1 Cor. 13:12; 1 John 3:2), and the price he paid for this kingdom was the life of his Son.

We are then instructed to remember and pray perpetually for this kingdom. Jesus said, this is how you should pray: “your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven” (Mt. 6:9-10). As this old kingdom is quickly fading out in the global scene and in our hearts, we must remember and look forward to the Second Coming. This is the only way that we are able to return to God and keep things in the right perspective as we go through the challenges of life. God is speaking to us again during this special era in history. Hear and listen to his voice.

[1] There are four different views on understanding biblical prophecy, especially the book of Revelation: preterists believe that all (full preterism) or some (partial preterism) of biblical history has been fulfilled; historicists believe that biblical history is a pre-narration of Church history; idealists believe that biblical history is merely symbolic of the constant struggle between good and evil; and futurists believe that biblical history contains events that will happen before, during, and after the Second Coming.