Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

News

October 26, 2013

Hope over hysteria and 'War of the Worlds' broadcast

(Continued)

Personally, I’m very well acquainted with this kind of mania. Growing up in the revivalistic tradition, almost weekly the pastor would tell us how the universe was about to come unwrapped and how very few of us were going to make it through the Jesus-invasion. As a self-centered child and teenager, I felt that if Jesus had waited all these centuries to show up on earth at this particular blip in history just to interrupt my life, it was fairly discourteous on his part to do so.

As I have gotten older, however, I see a more pronounced difficulty with constant “end-of-the-world” preaching. Entire congregations of people become so obsessively convinced that we are living in the final chapter of human history – on the last page, if not within the last sentence – that they begin to give away the future.

Ultimately, it is extremely difficult to give one’s self to today, to incarnate God’s love for the world, to alleviate the grotesque levels of suffering on this planet, or to practice justice, peace-making, and grace when one’s attitude is, “Why bother? It’s all going to burn up in ashes any minute now.”

Unbalanced apocalypticism simply makes it easy to give up on today. It fosters a view of the future that is dark and sinister. It creates a kind of apathy and hopelessness toward the planet. We become little more than caricatures of today’s politicians who choose to kick the worst problems down the street for another generation to wrestle with, long after they have left office. We become freakish doomsday preparers, who misunderstand that the best preparation is joining God in his transforming work rather than watching the clock for the end of the world.

No, “God is not slow about keeping his promises,” but the truth is that Jesus will probably not return today, and it’s not likely he will return in our lifetime. Therefore, we have to be more than prepared for his imminent return. We must be prepared to persevere. We must trade in our misapplied hysteria for living out a very real hope, the “Blessed Hope.” We must learn to live in the actual here and now, not the hypothetical tomorrow.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.

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