Let no one deceive you in any way.  2 Thessalonians 2:3

Walking off a ferry onto a small island, a young man approached my wife and me saying, “Hey, it’s good to see you again. I was your waiter.”

My thought, “HHHHMMMHHM, I don’t recognize him. He was wearing a mask.”

Then he said, “I recognize you because of the color of your hair.”

Me, another contemplative “HHHHMMMHHM!” (Blogger’s note for those who don’t know me – my hair is completely white.)

Then my waiter said, “I live on this island. This is my family’s store. Why don’t you come in to meet my father and brother?”

I’m a pastor. I’m mostly a nice guy. I love my mom and apple pie.

My wife and I followed the guy across the street and into his family’s store. Almost immediately they insisted on showing my wife their best jewelry  and, in their words, at very cheap prices.

We quickly left after being introduced to the father, brother, another brother, and the family cat. I left not because I was suspicious but because I didn’t want to spend the enormous amount of their “very cheap” prices.

Just a few steps from the store, a man standing on the sidewalk said, “He’s not your waiter!” Sort of confused, my wife and I walked another block and another man standing on the street said, “How many waiters have you met so far?”

It wasn’t my great prowess at discernment or a prophetic warning that saved me – it was being cheap!

Deception!

As Jesus warns it will be a signature mark of the antichrist in the end times.

The one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish.  2 Thessalonians 2:9-10

Deception needs a person saying, “I am your waiter” and a gullible pastor wanting to be nice. Many who deceive justify their lies, as one comedian said, “It is morally wrong to allow suckers to keep their money.”

Deception also needs a victim. I didn’t get up that morning thinking, “What a good day; I think I will believe whatever someone tells me.”

End-times deception will be on a different level.

The antichrist will shout, “Peace! Prosperity!” Again, Paul writes in 2 Thessalonians, that many will be deceived because…

They refused to love the truth and so be saved.  2 Thessalonians 2:10

I realize my “waiter deception” happens to all of us. We are all walking suckers waiting to be relieved of our money. Sooner or later we all succumb as we can’t be kind and decent without vulnerability to deception.

The end-times will be different:

I read that each person “has their own story,” or someone says, “It’s harsh to insist that we are right.” And when the emphasis in our culture shifts from “truth” to “feeling good about ourselves.”

With truth decried and self uplifted, what’s our vulnerability during plague and economic distress? (Especially to someone who promises peace and prosperity at a very cheap price.”

Just bow down and worship.

Returning to the ferry later that day, another young man said to me, “Hey, I was your waiter.” I laughed as I was then a seasoned tourist.

With my wallet still intact, I left the island.