The End May Not Be Near

February 10, 2014

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The end may not be near.

Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s I was bombarded with predictions and prophecies about the end of the world. I was on the tale end of the The Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey craze and on the front end of the Left Behind: A Novel of the Earth’s Last Days by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins hoopla.

I’ve seen multiple predictions about the 2nd coming come and go.

What if the end times may not happen in our lifetime? Or another hundred lifetimes for that matter.

Richard Abanes, in his fascinating book, End-Time Visions: The Road to Armageddon, details how every generation from Christ til the present day have thought they were the ones to see the return of Christ.

So far they have all been wrong.

So whether it is tomorrow or thousands of years from now, how are we to live?

In his book, Futureville: Discover Your Purpose for Today by Reimagining Tomorrow, Skye Jethani gives a few perspectives we as believers can have on the end being near. He considers these options:

Evacuation. As the world deteriorates into the moral abyss, is the primary goal of the church to have people repent and be saved? This view holds the world has been abandoned to decay by God and the only hope lies in evacuating people off the sinking ship. The future new heaven and new earth will replace this broken one.

Escape.  The narrow hope is for believers to escape (at the rapture or some other point) the impending doom upon the planet. The hope of escape can motivate people to disconnect from the pain surrounding them. If nothing will endure, the only meaningful work is done in the context of souls.

Social Evolution (very loaded word). This view says that the we can make progress in the world, improving it or taking dominion through innovation and ingenuity. At the return of Christ, the new heaven and new earth will do away with all elements of decay and death.

What has this mentality of Evacuation and Escape done to our vision of investing in the future? Is a purely social evolution view the one to have?

In Futureville, Jethani states that we see value in investing in every area of life, not merely those linked to the church.

Often in our churches, those who engage in full-time vocational Christian ministry or social change are exalted.

Jethani wonders, “How does a dentist, roofer, or homemaker find purpose? Are they require to give their surplus time and energy to the “cause”, whatever that might be?”

I would add that their primary purpose is not to give money to the causes. Yes, a missionary just said that people’s primary cause is not to give money to me!

Someone may be changing the world, but within the church the only recognition comes from teaching Sunday school.

Somehow in the church, we must put to death the divide between the sacred and the secular, working in all areas till Christ returns. I think we would want to improve the planet and fight social evils based on the likelihood we may be here for awhile. At the same time, not in a superior way, but in an equal way engaging in evangelism, discipleship, and ministry expressions.

God clearly is not a God of one or the other, but of both.

What do you think? What is your vision of Futureville? Where do you find your hope for life on Earth?

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God