Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Word on the End of the World


Last week I received an urgent email telling me about the second end of time code in Isaiah. Today I took a day off and saw a couple of episodes of Doomsday Preppers.  I also have seen a litany of articles and television specials related to the end of Mayan calendar this coming Friday. I continue to be amazed at people who are consumed by the end of time.  They look seeking to the Bible and the daily newspaper seeking to find a way to prove that the end is now and that Christ must return in our era.  This is an incredibly narcissistic worldview.  No, this is not the darkest era in all of human history.  

As I look back over history it is pretty easy to think about darker eras.  When the Black Plague swept across Europe almost 50% of the population died from the disease or related issues. It took 150 years for the population to recover.   

While I was on sabbatical this past summer in England and Scotland I could not help but be stirred by the markers you found in every community acknowledging the individuals that village or town had lost in World War I.  Because the US entered the war so late in the process many of us do not fully appreciate the dark toll of the war. Almost a million soldiers from England, Scotland, and Ireland were killed during this brutal war. There are no grand songs or victory images from this war because the devastation 
was heart-wrenching.  The poetry of this era is filled with pain and desperation. 

If you lived in Ireland during the potato famine, or witnessed over 15% of the population of Scotland died in the famine of 1690s, or were in Finland in 1696 where one third of the population died in a single year as a result of its famine, or if you lived in Midwestern dust bowl in the 1930s, or if you were in the millions watching family die in the great famines in China, or if were in Cambodia during the era of the Khmer Rouge, or if you were Jewish or Gypsy in the 1940's facing genocide at the hands of the Nazis you could have not imagined things getting any worse.  

Our reality is that the world in not an easy or safe place.  Across history we have had wars and rumors of wars.  We have seen catastrophic natural disasters.  The skies have been filled with darkness and storms.  But, the Kingdom of God on earth remains vibrant and we are an ongoing witness of God's work in the world.

Jesus teaching on the end of the world is clear.  Matthew 24: 36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  We also hear;  Acts 1: He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Jesus also speaks to us about having a heart of worry. Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

In 2 Timothy 1:7 we hear For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. We are not to be consumed by the fear of what happens next.We do not have to look into our tomorrows with a foreboding sense of fear and trembling.  We do not have to look for the signs of the end of time. We can trust God.  We can live secure in our relationship with God. The Bible is not secret code book hiding God's word from us.  It is God's word for God's people that communicates with clarity God's will and way for us.  Fear not.  God is with us.  Worry not. God sustains us.  Grieve not.  God's love and grace is sufficient for us. 

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