2013 will mark my 20th year of being a Christian. I’ve been around the faith for a bit, and I have managed to see a few things. Some good, and some not so good. One thing is for certain, no matter the movements, there are always things to be learned, things to be kept and things to be left behind. (Pun intended.)
Whether it is the Pentecostal/charismatic movement, the Revelation/end times movement, (complete with Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins’ fictional take, charts, calendars, star readings and archeological relics) word of faith and prosperity movement, the social justice movement and now the return to the church fathers movement; they’ve all been done before, and surely they’ll come back around every so often like fashion from years past.
However, the one fad or movement that seems to not go away but continually grabs the headlines is the apocalyptic end times movement. Led be Jerry Falwell, Jack Van Impe, Hal Lindsey, John Hagee and others, these pastors seek to connect bizarre events, news stories and anything else that seems to fit their interpretation of end times scripture into pronouncements about the end of the world. Everything is looked at as a conspiracy and with more meaning than what meets the eye. They prophesy, proclaim and pontificate to the masses that “the end is near”. Their chief belief is that this world is bad, evil and good for nothing, so we are just waiting for the wonderful doomsday when we can be evacuated from this dreadful planet. (This is commonly known as dispensationalism.)
The issue with this kind of teaching, is that it is motivated by fear and destruction. The other major calamity is the implication that this life here and now really doesn’t matter, other than responding to Jesus. It’s all about we’re going, not He’s coming. (When it’s actually quite the opposite.) Jesus himself stated that we would be known as his disciples “by our love for one another.” Not by our proclamations of the end, not by pointing to every odd occurrence, claiming them as end times prophesy and not by scaring and shaming people into responding to Jesus.
Jesus’ call was to “repent, for the kingdom is at hand.” What kingdom? The kingdom of Jesus looks like renewal, reconciliation and restoration…of all things. Here and now. On into the future. And in the coming reign of God. How’s this accomplished? Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Grace and mercy don’t hurt either. These, I’m convinced are much more effective at conveying the character and nature of God. Because God is like Jesus. And this is what Jesus was and is like.
It’s been more than 2000 years since Jesus ascended and stated that he would soon return. Countless civilizations of people have believed they were the chosen people to see the Apocalypse. And yet, here we are about to roll over into 2013. There have been innumerable declarations of end times. Click here to take a look.
They all have one thing in common. They were wrong. In one sense, it’s good to live like the end is near. Not taking any day for granted and doing all that we can do to help a broken world. In another, it’s a dangerous habit to always worry about the coming age rather than working for renewal, restoration and reconciliation here and now.
So while yet another prediction of the end of the world has come and gone, with no result, we move forward. Forward into a mad world filled with violence, greed, hatred and yes, weird natural disasters. But instead of always looking at these happenings as signs of the end of time, let’s look at them as opportunities. Opportunities to be voices of love and reason and compassion. Not voices of shock, alarm and sensationalism. So may all of us live like this is the last day on earth, while realizing there are many more joy filled days to come.