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Is the End Near? Should We Care? What Difference Does It Make?

I have to confess that I am a bit more than surprised how much attention is being paid — both by the media and just regular folks — to the “rapture on May 21, 2011” prediction.  I don’t actually know anyone who thinks the rapture will happen tomorrow, but they do seem intrigued by the whole question of end-times.  

So what is it that Christians should be doing in terms of preparing for the end?  And when will the end be?

Luckily, the Jesus answers both these questions rather clearly in the Bible.

As to when, Jesus is abundantly clear: NO ONE KNOWS, EXCEPT FOR THE FATHER.(Matthew 24:36).  So pretty much, I think it is safe to say that anyone who claims to know doesn’t and they are a false prophet.  Period.  The quickest way to reveal yourself as a religious fraud is to try and predict when the end times will come.

So what are Christians to do?

Again, Jesus and the Bible are pretty clear.

We are supposed to live BOTH as if Jesus might come at any moment (“like a thief in the night”) and live as if he is not returning for 1000 years.  In other words, we should be prepared, but we should also be continually investing in bringing forth Kingdom values here and now — our prayer is to bring heaven down here, not us to heaven.

What does this look like in practical ways?

In terms of being prepared as if it could happen at any moment:
  1. Keep short accounts with other people and with God.  Confess sin, seek forgiveness, and as much as it is possible, live at peace with each other.
  2. Make your relationship with God a priority — don’t put it off.
  3. Invest in what will count for eternity: relationships. Money, titles, luxury cars, big houses, prestige — these things don’t ultimately matter very much.
  4. Prepare for eternity.  In many respects, this life is preparation for the next.  So prepare well by living out your primary purposes well: worship, community, discipleship, ministry and mission.
In terms of living as Jesus will not return for 1000 years (or 10,000 years):
  1. Gain a long term perspective on what matters: justice, people, relationships.
  2. Make your relationship with God a priority — eternity is a long time… we need to get the big things right.
  3. Be part of God’s ongoing plan to bring forth his Kingdom, build His church, and push back the gates of Hell.
  4. Invest in big God-honoring visions.  Give your life to something that matters.
  5. Work well, live well, love well.  St. Paul has to remind the Thessalonian church the importance of working, being good citizens, etc.  They thought Jesus would return at any moment and had stopped doing the basic things of life because of that.  Paul tells them to essentially get a job, earn money, take care of their families, and to live life well.  This is good advice.
The challenge for us is not to choose one way over the other — but to live in the tension of both.

Why?  Because no one knows the day or hour that the end will come… 

This is the basic, straightforward and abundantly clear teachings of the scriptures.

THOUGHTS? 
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Posted by on May 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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