If you're following world news at all, you're aware that everyone seems to be freaking out over the violent tension in the Middle East right now. Here are a few thoughts I have about that conflict.
1 - As Ecclesiastes tells us, "There's nothing new under the sun." Conflict in the Middle East has ebbed and flowed ever since Israel's recreation following WWII, and every time it ramps up, people freak out and think it's (quite literally) the end of the world. Don't go too crazy just yet.
2 - Although witnessing to others is always a fantastic thing, don't become one of those people who stand on street corners with signs saying, "Repent, the end is near!" just because of what's going on in the Middle East. If it calms down again (which it very well might), that will only reflect poorly on Christianity and make us look like idiots. Our witnessing should always focus on their need for Christ, period, not their need for Christ right now because (we think) it's the end of the world. Until we're 100% certain - as in, every last piece is clearly set in motion - let's not start screaming to unbelievers about unfulfilled prophecy. (Although, in certain circumstances, that is actually one way to demonstrate the validity of the Bible and true power of God to unbelievers.)
3 - In one of the epistles (I don't have time to look up the specific reference, it's late - sorry), it's mentioned that the Christians of that day were so absolutley certain that Jesus would come back any day that they quit their jobs and stayed home...and the writer of the epistle told them that was completely the wrong way to act. Althogh I personally believe that the literal end of the world, as told in Revelation, will certainly happen in our lifetimes, and probably quite soon, I fully acknowledge that I could be wrong. It could start tomorrow, it could be years or decades away, or it could happen after we're all dead - the bottom line is, we don't know. So don't go overboard and completely ruin your life until it's all absolutely, positively clear.
4 - But at the same time, we are supposed to live in the expectation that it could all come crashing down at any moment - because that keeps us focused on eternity, and keeps us from getting too attatched to and invested in this world. I fully believe that these scares, these "birth pangs" we're witnessing right now, and have for ages past, are reminders of this lesson.
5 - Don't start counting down to the Rapture. Although the Left Behind book series shot the pre-trib view to popularity, the fact of the matter is that plenty of Bible scholars believe that the "rapture" will happen either halfway through the 7-year Tribulation, or at the end of it - and these are just three among many views! I myself am a post-tribber (meaning I believe the rapture will happen at the end of the Tribulation, so the church will have to go through it), and I'm definitley not going into my reasons here as that is not my main point (although, if the Spirit continues to lead me in that direction, I might post a bit on that over Christmas break in December-January). My point is this: I greatly fear that if I am correct and the rapture does not happen at the beginning of the Tribulation, many pre-trib Christians will stumble in their faith, and maybe even lose it, with the feeling that God has rejected them or that it was all a lie. So, I never try to convince anyone that post-trib is the correct view - all I aim to do is attempt to get them to keep in mind that it is a possibility, so that if that comes true, their faith won't falter. We should never base our faith on our interpretations of Scripture - but, rather, on Christ alone.
Alright, that's my two cents on the matter. What wisdom can you offer for us Christians to live by during this Middle Eastern crisis?