Thursday, December 3, 2009

The End Is Coming!! No, It’s Not.

“Men fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world” (Luke 21:25). “This looks like the end of the world” (The movie: 2012). “The sky is falling” (Chicken Little).

I must admit, I understand the feelings of Chicken Little a bit better than the others. He constantly looked for and misunderstood signs, and like the boy who cried “Wolf!” once too often, no one believed him. Chicken Little did have a point though. If the sky WERE falling, people should be in panic, like he was, right? But you can’t be in a constant panic, self-protection mode all your life. That was why everyone ignored Chicken Little. How many studies can you worry about which say: “You shouldn’t eat that: chemicals”; “You shouldn’t drink that: pesticides”; or “You shouldn’t breathe: pollution.” At some point you say in frustration: “I CAN’T protect myself from dying. I can't”

Ahhh, that’s the rub.

That statement is a very real fact, but one we are sooooo reluctant to say out loud. We are going to die. Despite protecting our bodies from chemicals, pesticides and pollution, we are going to die. That’s why Chicken Little got ignored after a while. It’s why dozens of end-time movies may interest us for the special effects, but are boring in plot. It’s why Scripture’s words can get boring too: “Yeh, I know; I’m going to die. I get it already.” It seems a sad prediction to ponder -- so, let’s look at a happy one!

I think the reason the words of Luke in the New Testament grow boring for us is the same reason the Jews grew bored with the words of the Old Testament. The Messiah is coming! And just like some of us read signs and proclaim the end times are coming, many Jews read the signs and said the Messiah was coming. It was a happy prediction, but after a while, no one bothered to listen to that either – but why not? I mean for the Jews, the Messiah coming was a great thing, not the tragedy of the end of the world. The Messiah was to be the beginning of a new Jewish world, a Jewish kingdom, the end of the Roman power. How could they grow bored thinking about or looking for that?

The real problem with the good news the Jews were looking for and the bad news we are looking for is really the same thing: “I’m going to die. I get it already.” Both the good news and the bad news had two discouraging points about them. One: They are in the future, and I am likely to die before then. So why care? Two: Even if the events occurred while I am alive, I am going to die – whether in a few years or a few hours. It’s not like I’m going to partake of them my whole life.

“The long-awaited event”, will be over for me (maybe) in a few minutes. Wait thousands of years for some Messiah-generated happiness, and pffft, it’s over for me in a few minutes? The end times: pain, suffering, the end of all our buildings and homes – why do I even want to think about that? Promised good times or promised bad, they’ll be over in a short time; why worry about it?

Is God making a big deal over nothing? What’s wrong with this picture???

What’s wrong with the picture is who you see in the center of it: you. It’s not about you.

That’s the error the Jews -- and us -- fell into: thinking everything is about us. Thinking every THING is what is important, but knowing the truth all the while, that these things will pass away. So we get confused in our beliefs and our focus. And we just don’t want to think about it.

But the Messiah-coming prophecies and the Second Coming/End-Time prophecies are NOT about us. They are about WHO is coming and what HE brings. And what He brings is an end to our fears, and an end to our confusion. The Jews thought he would bring earthly happiness, and maybe for them for only the few minutes they lived, but he brought the possibility of an eternal happiness and eternal life. He opened the gates of heaven and said I go to prepare a place for you there. Our worries about the end of the world and loss of all our things, and our life, are eased. We won’t lose our life then, it will just be beginning. And what of our things? We’ll be trading in our old, rusty, failing cars/bodies for new, non-polluting eternal warranty models. So the old clunker will be gone; don’t worry about that. Everything in this world rusts out, grows old, and dies.

Everything except, as we now know: us. The end is coming! No, it’s not. The beginning is coming. It’s not a horror story, and it’s not about the sky falling. It’s about us ascending into the sky. As He did.

If we look at things as the Jews did, or even as many people today do: so very concerned with their possessions, power, and life – or even as Chicken Little did – certainly the Messiah coming meant nothing and the end-times are scary. But He DID mean something; He showed us something; He PROVED to us something: We will not die!

In this Advent period, we will hear some Scripture readings of the end times. If you think about, if you read about, if you BELIEVE what Jesus said, those will be glorious times, for HE will be coming. We look forward to celebrating Christmas, when Jesus was born and explained to us and showed us how all these things will be. We have nothing to fear. And until he comes again – even if we are not alive in our bodies then – he promised he will be with us even now, if we but invite him.

Paul knew it: For “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). I hope you know it too, my friends. You are never alone. You never have anything to fear. In this season, think on the Child to be born; think on his laughter, his smile. Hold him in your heart.

And he will hold you.

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