More than once in the past couple days I’ve read comments on social media that say something like this: “The way I see it, the worse our world gets, the more Biblical prophecy is fulfilled and the closer we are to Jesus’ return. I can’t wait to leave this earth for heaven!”
I can’t completely blame the people making these statements. I, too, have been grasping for hope at the sight of the horrific news stories from around the world this week. And although we both place our hope in the same God, there is a subtle—but extremely significant—difference in the conclusions we make about God’s “game plan.”
Our beliefs about the end-times significantly shape our actions in the now-times.
In other words, if I believe that this world is going to continue to get worse and worse until Jesus’ return (or in other words, if I believe that Jesus won’t return until the chaos of this world reaches some sort of buzzer at the “end of regulation time”) then why would I even care about pursuing peace in this world? In a sense, by ignoring the pursuit of peace, I’m assisting in expediting Jesus’ return by not interfering! (“Yay, go Evil! Get worse so Jesus will return sooner!”)
That’s just not how I read the Scriptures.
When I read Jesus’ prayer that God’s Kingdom would be brought forth on earth as it is in heaven, I see a God who cares about our world and wants to redeem it. When I see Jesus perform miracle after miracle and embody the radical way of the peaceful Kingdom that was prophesied in Isaiah, I don’t see a God who has given up on humanity, but instead I see a God who invites humanity to participate in God’s project of redemption.
Some might say, “Yes, but have you read Revelation?” Yes. I have. And I choose to read Revelation through a filter of hope, instead of a filter of fear.
Do I claim to know what, exactly, the end times will look like? No. Part of me thinks that God will look at all of our little “prediction timelines” and end-time maps and say, “Ah, how cute. That was a good try,” as God does something far beyond our wildest imaginations.
Ultimately, I guess we’re faced with two choices:
- We can believe that the world will continue to get worse until Jesus’ return and there is nothing we can do about it, leading to a sense of apathy and resignation, OR
- We can believe that God calls us to join in God’s redemption of all creation, a project that is currently in process, bringing God’s perfect future crashing into our present, pursuing peace in the midst of turmoil.
I choose to place my hope in the power of God’s peace that surpasses all understanding,
a peace that transforms lives,
a peace that changes the narratives and trajectories of history,
a peace that introduces heaven to earth,
a peace that speaks loudly, “THIS WORLD STILL MATTERS.”