Prepared, Not Preppers
Part 1

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Each of us live and minister in the shadow of divine judgment. We understand that God’s corrective judgment permits seasons of national difficulty for the purpose of alerting people to the consequences of their continued rebellion and to provoke us to repentance. Knowing this, we should anticipate times of increasing difficulty in America. Apart from systemic cultural change, divinely permitted seasons of national difficulty are likely inevitable, but this does not absolve us from our responsibility to minster during such seasons. Instead, it could be during these times of difficulty that our ministry is most effective—if we are prepared.

America has no shortage of people who are prepared for times of extreme difficulty. Often referred to as “preppers,” these are people who are determined to persevere through even the most dire circumstances. Such preppers typically focus on a particular facet of the feared apocalypse:

  • Doomsday preppers with bunkers and fallout shelters designed to survive a nuclear holocaust
  • Zombie apocalypse preppers with enough guns, ammunition, and explosives to fend-off any invading force
  • Biological warfare preppers with masks, hazmat suits, medical supplies, and hermetically sealed shelters
  • EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) preppers with faraday cages and hand-powered tools
  • Global warming preppers with houses built high above sea level and far from the rising coastlines
  • Financial collapse preppers with stashes of gold, silver, and cryptocurrencies

Often, a defining mentality among such preppers is a will to survive at all costs. The world around them may disintegrate and perish, but they are survivors. However, this is not the mentality or kind of preparation necessary to minister through times of national difficulty.

As Christians, our goal should not be to simply survive. We have been commissioned to expand God’s kingdom by teaching others to give their allegiance to God. Jesus commanded His followers, “Go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you” (Matt. 28:19–20b). Our goal should be to minister to others—regardless of our circumstances.

As Christians, our future is far more glorious than anything this present life has to offer (Rom. 8:18; 1 Cor. 2:9; 1 Pet. 1:3–5). By relentlessly clinging to life, we only delay this future. Therefore, there must be something that merits preserving this life in trying times. The apostle Paul expresses this mentality in his letter to the Philippians:

I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between the two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith (Php. 1:21–25).

Paul would have rejected the apocalyptic prepper mentality of surviving at all costs. Freed from his responsibility to minister to others, Paul would have had no reason to cling to this life. Likewise, our focus ought to be on ministry rather than survival. Therefore, when we speak of the need to prepare for times of increasing difficulty, we are endorsing a far different mentality and objective than that of the stereotypical American “prepper.”

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Timothy Zebell

As a former missionary to Asia for twelve years and the author of several books, Timothy is passionate about helping people understand the relevancy of God's Word in today's world. His goals are to help Christians discern truth from error, empower Christians to speak into cultural matters with relevancy, and to help Christians capitalize on the opportunities that these matters provide for sharing the truth about God and His gospel message.
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved. Biblegateway.com.