Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Are These Signs of the End of the World?

“And this good news [the gospel] of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.”

~Matthew 24:14 (NRSV).

The prophetic word of none less than Jesus! It is trust-worthy.

Questions always arise in our minds when such heart-rending calamities take place in our world. In the 1980s it was the nuclear arms race. The 1990s it was AIDS. In the 2000s it’s been both terrorism and pandemics. This very day, we’re reminded, it’s the case of natural disasters to magnitudes hardly conscionable.

Bearing everything in context, life is as uncertain as it always was. But is the decline of the world (a common religious assumption) on a path of acceleration?

Only God knows the answer to that one. We’re told to “keep awake” (Matthew 24:42) and by doing so, ensure all foreseeable preparations are made.

A more apt question is, has God called an end to the cosmic venture of evangelisation, for that is the sign to watch for; the entire world—to the darkest corner—reached for Christ. That—as an outcome—can potentially mean many things.

What Comes Before the Parousia (Coming of Christ)

If the world has not been completely evangelised—and we ‘safely’ assume there is still much work to be done—we can rest assured that though the end is nigh, we’re still in ‘the last days’.

What goes with that is the allusion to great parcels of persecution—of Christians (Matthew 24:9f).

There are immense pockets of persecution in many countries, but is it any worse now than centuries previous? Still, “one day is like a thousand years” to the Lord (2 Peter 3:8 [NRSV]). How are we really to know what to watch for? (Sorry, more questions than answers here.)

There is no clear way of telling the time, or the signs. It’s not a good idea to cast our minds too far forward for that terrible Day of the Lord, either, for we have life to live now—that is our God-given purpose; to be ready for the testing.

Persecution is a key sign. Can any of these natural disasters, or other worrying phenomena, be seen this way? Well, perhaps for all the resources going into cleaning up ravaged areas there is less governmental resource for supporting peace processes; and never more are they needed.

A More Pertinent Point – The Way We Think

The created world is so stupendous in its scale we are easily awed by the wondrous and horrific alike. The latter has us quickly questioning our safety.

Both extremes shake our belief. We’re caused to sit up and pay attention to what God in our hearts is saying.

With size and magnification God gets our attention, but to the Lord—scale-wise—these are little things indeed. Yet, the Almighty loving God is partial to our suffering.

The way we think—like being concerned for life and for the future—has been constructed by God. We think because we love; made, as we are, in the image of the Lord.

It’s understandable to gravitate toward thought of ‘the end’ but that’s not where God wants us focused. There is still much to do. Besides, are we to worry about something for which we’re told we’re assured of? Are we to spruik like mad people?

No, we just keep doing what we’re doing, faithfully. We keep on living according to God’s will for our lives—no more, no less.

© 2011 S. J. Wickham.

Graphic Credit: Cosmos Magazine.

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