Miscellany and Eschatology
I had a great idea for an April Fool’s post, but it bordered on the sacrilegious, so I passed. I figured it was better to save risking offending folks for something that mattered.
InCast, the folks who brought you “The Case for Christianity” webcast last month have a new one next month. It's for Max Lucado on May 7th, and called “Out Live Your Life.” The idea is that God can work with and through you to make a difference locally, close to home, and yet having far-reaching influence. You can visit www.incastevents.com to find out more information. They are also having a couple of contests going on. There is a chance to win the Lucado “Out Live Your Life” simulcast for your church or small group http://tinylink.in/CWA, and they have a Kindle™ contest going on too, http://buzzplant.com/incast/lucado/contest.html.
It is easy for folks to see eschatology behind every news item, and I try pretty hard to resist the temptation myself. History shows the rise and fall of many cultures, and given that we in the US live in the dominant culture, it is easy to see our decline as the end of the world and the signal for Christ’s return. I am skeptical of this perspective, seeing it as somewhat myopic, when God sees things much more globally than we do.
That said, I find sobering words in Matthew 24:
“Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains.”
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”
Global communications enable us to instantly learn of every skirmish and disagreement around the planet, and the current ‘domino display’ in the Middle East, and increased tensions in many other parts of the world (US border, European-Muslim tensions, etc.), seem to fit the ideas of wars and rumors of wars. However, the end is not yet.
Economic stresses, corruption and unusual weather patterns are putting pressure on food supplies, but fortunately, famines have been relatively minor (unless you are the one without food!!!), but they follow wars, both literally in the sense that the disruptions caused by wars can cause famines, but also the famines in Christ’s words seem to follow the wars he describes.
As do the earthquakes. However, it does appear that there are more frequent and more severe earthquakes in the last few years, and the last 15 months in particular—Chile, Haiti, New Zealand, Japan, and Crete does make one wonder.
Yet, these are the beginnings of the pangs.
I do see evidence of the love of people growing cold. Isolation is increasing, and people seem more on edge. We would rather sue or call the police than work it out, kiss and make up. When talking about this period, Daniel describes it as ‘times of stress.’ Our frenetic pace of living and how we are exporting it sure seem to qualify.
I could go on, and without doing a statistical/historical study of each of the indicators Christ points to, I can’t attest to a real increase in frequency of every one. As someone once said, “For most people, history begins the day they are born.” So what’s the point? Just that it is healthy to take a reading of the global situations and compare from time to time, all the while being cautious about attributing too much weight to a snapshot, but add it to the others and compare the trends.
So what? How should this impact our lives? If we are living in such a way that Christ would likely say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” then the impact is minimal. We are to continue to seek Him, letting Him work in our lives to conform them to His image, ministering to the world as salt and light until He calls us home by death or rapture. The arrival of ‘the end’ shouldn’t really be more than generating interest and excitement to be able to see it unfold and have the opportunity to point it out to others, in the hope of convincing some to consider Christ’s offer of redemption. Since few of us feel we are truly in that place, it is a good opportunity to evaluate how we are living and for whom we are living. Are we one of those whose love is growing cold or being tempted to turn away from the faith? Hopefully not.
When I was in Boy Scouts, our Scoutmaster would tell stories around the campfire, and one that always stuck with me was about the old Indian Chief who was going on one last trek to some destination. He would take one brave with him in the canoe. He picked a group of the top four young braves and asked them, “If I take you, and we are camping one night, and the rain comes and wakes you, what will you do?” The first brave said he’d run out and cover the supplies with a skin. The second, trying to outdo the first, said he’d bring the supplies into the tent. The third, trying to earn the Chief’s favor, said he’d turn the canoe over and hide the supplies underneath it. The fourth, a quiet, thoughtful brave, simply said that he’d turn over and go back to sleep. The Chief chose the fourth brave because he knew that brave had already prepared the supplies before retiring for the night.
Are we prepared for whatever happens, whether Christ comes in our lifetime or we go to the grave at the end of our days, whenever that is? It isn’t a matter of doing ‘more.’ It is a matter of faithfully doing what He has given us to do already, which is to abide in Him.
So, how do we abide? Come back tomorrow.