Growing up I didn’t have any sort of religious influence in my life. It was the 70s and my parents both had bad experiences with the churches in which they were raised. So, it wasn’t until I was 17 that I began to be interested in spiritual things.
I was drawn to the whole “end times” discussion that was rampant during the late 70s and early 80s. The talk of the soon-coming apocalypse was fervent and ubiquitous. I couldn’t get away from it and in some ways I didn’t want to. In fact, I attended a church led by one of the most prominent “Prophecy Preachers” of the era. He loved to say his “Late, Great…” tome was the best selling book of the 1970s. Sadly, this was not the biggest lie I believed during that time.
Fast forward almost four decades. I’ve come to understand all of the things I learned about the end of the world are false. The numerology, interpretations, star gazing and predictions are all lies. Stuffing current events into first century Biblical metaphors is not a healthy practice and misses the point of Jesus teachings. It’s not about escaping this place, it’s about sticking around to make life better for others.
What you believe about the end changes the way you live in the middle. It seems those that hold to this apocalypse narrative turn away from things like creation care, social justice, peacemaking, and true acceptance and affirmation of others. We’re all about saying we love and accept everyone until we open the book of Revelations where millions of people are slaughtered during the tribulations and climactic “War of the Lamb.” Reading Revelation literally is terrifying at best and shows we’ve completely missed the point.
If we believe everything will burn we make decisions based on that. Our narrative begins to reflect end-times eschatology. If we’re short-timers here we don’t need to worry about climate change, or debt, or long term security, or taking care of those less fortunate, or racial reconciliation, or….[fill in the blank].
As a nation our foreign policy is driven by this bad eschatology. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Peace in the middle east is a complex problem and our support of one side over all others reflects our belief as a nation in this apocalyptic fantasy. We support military aggression by our “friends” and condemn any actions by the other side. Problem is children are dying on both sides while we root for the apocalypse. Are we that callous and unfeeling to choose our “reward” over the lives of innocents. Perhaps we are the antichrist.
Let’s turn away from the untruths an lean into caring for one another. Love with abandon. Care for this planet and every human being living on it.