A friend asked me about my thoughts on the predication of God’s return on Saturday. Here’s his email and my reply:
I don’t know if it’s big down where you are, but this whole May 21 “Judgment Day” thing (www.familyradio.com) is getting a fair amount of coverage. It’s interesting that this specific iteration of the end times is so media heavy and coordinated. Maybe it’s just something else to talk about besides Arnold and IMF and all that garbage.
The standard Mt.24:36 retort should be enough here…and their mathematical methodologies seem to stretch things a bit…but I can’t help admitting a bit of uneasiness at this whole thing. Maybe I am just uneasy in my own walk…but still…Any reactions to this whole hullabaloo? Any good chatter in the pastorsphere about this?
with only the slightest amount of trepidation and guilt,
I think it’s everywhere. We’re not the thriving metropolis of Chicago; but on Tuesdays and Fridays we get the news.
No matter how outlandish these predictions (promises, excuse me) seem and no matter how disjointed they are from what the Bible actually says, I understand the unease. I feel it a bit myself. I’ve had flashes of competing temptations: paint my chest with John 3:16 and go running through the streets – or to liquidate our retirement funds and rush the family off to Greece tomorrow, our last chance (ever) to see the Parthenon.
It’s no surprise that we are apprehensive, though – these shrill calls aim precisely at our fears. Our fears of ruin and catastrophic tumult. Most often, however, when Scripture writers spoke of the end of days, it was offered as comfort to those awaiting the redemption of things. The Peter passage (which the May 21st folks refer to regularly) is not a fearful tome but rather Peter’s encouraging word to the Church, to know that God has “not forgotten his promise.”
While God speaks straight words and (at times) firm words we’d rather not hear, God does not incite fear. God prods love. And, as I John tells us, “perfect love drives out fear.” So, if what you feel is fear, that’s not Love. That’s not God.
More importantly, God’s return is fundamentally about hope, not ruin. The “destruction” Peter refers to is not the end of things but the beginning of things, the arrival of the “new heavens and new earth.” (II Peter 3:11-13) Knowing that God is the good and just judge who will, one day, bring all things to their rightful conclusion should encourage us to think circumspectly about our life – and to live with hope, diligence and watchfulness. As Peter says, “Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer.” (I Peter 4:7)
This wide-awake life does not cower in fear. We walk wide-open into love and friendship. We tell the story of Good News in Jesus Christ. We make music and write poetry and build buildings and raise our children, all the things that God has always asked his image-bearers to be and do. When Martin Luther was asked what he would do today if he knew God was coming tomorrow, he answered, “I’d go plant a tree.”
So, have hope. Receive God’s love. Walk in faith. And go plant your tree.