The End of All Things Is Near

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March 28, 2022

1 Peter 4:7 NIV

7 The end of all things is near.

CONSIDER THIS

Two ways we can go with today’s text . . . nay three. I’m interested in which way you are going with it. 

7 The end of all things is near.

Way #1: Apocalyptic Anxiety. The sky is falling. Everything is going to pot or to the dogs or to hades or however you tend to say such things. It is not hard to watch the news and then read select texts, like 1 Peter 4:7, and get everyone all stirred up that the end is upon us and leverage all this into what I call apocalyptic anxiety. This is where modern military weaponry gets interpreted through the lenses of the biblical imagery of locusts and beasts and the temperature gets turned up in church (especially on TV). People will respond to this, once or twice, but after that not so much. It is fairly easy to interpret the Bible according to the times in which we live. It can generate spiritual momentum and religious urgency . . . at least for a while. 

7 The end of all things is near.

Way #2: Apathetic Indifference. Apocalyptic anxiety usually leads to apathetic indifference. Here’s how it works. The end does not come. Things often get worse. The end still does not come. People get tired. Things don’t so much get better but the calamity relents. The unsustainable fervor that launched 24-7 houses of prayer wanes. What began as hundreds on fire becomes a small circle of “the faithful” who never say die until they actually do. And God bless them, because though their fire burned down to embers, they kept the fire burning. Meanwhile, most everyone around them slowly drifted off to sleep. They didn’t mean to. Many ran the first mile. Some ran the second, but most tuckered out and went back to their regularly scheduled lives, doing their best to stay faithful in the chaos of life.

Apathetic indifference does not come all at once, and it happens to the best of us. It’s not our fault. We responded to the fiery leadership of well-meaning anxious leaders who are also most often very good people. I know this because I have been on both sides of this equation (as follower and leader). Apathetic indifference does not happen by decision but by declension. The lights dim slowly, giving our eyes ample time to adjust. Our faith quietly drifts back into a collection of beliefs. Apathy usually doesn’t come from laziness but from unsustainable activity that has led to discouragement and disappointment. Faith doesn’t go away as much as it suffers erosion. Faith doesn’t die. It just becomes sleepy and domesticated. I should also note here, apocalyptic anxiety has a first cousin named relentless revivalism. We will save that discussion for another day. 

7 The end of all things is near.

Way #3: Eschatological Hope. Rather than interpreting the Word of God in light of the times, we must learn to interpret the times in light of the Word of God. There is no question these first Christians and their Apostolic leaders believed the end of all things was upon them. Why? It was not because of all of the craziness going on around them—nothing new about that. They believed the end of all things was near because something so unbelievably new had happened it signaled the dawning of a new age: The Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Messiah and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the earth. These were the flashing, no, blazing signs revealing this reality.

Then and now, Biblical Christians understand time in two primary epochs: 1. The present evil age, and 2. The glorious age to come. Peter did not write these words, The end of all things is near, out of some kind of apocalyptic anxiety that the world was going to hell in a hand basket. No, he wrote them out of the deepest well of hope this side of heaven because it was actually anchored in heaven: eschatological hope. Eschatology is a $25 word that means the doctrine of last things. The resurrection of the dead is the definitive sign of both the end of the beginning (the curse of sin and death) and of the beginning of the end (where o grave is your victory and where o death is your sting!). 

7 The end of all things is near.

Why? One reason: Jesus Messiah is risen from the dead, the firstborn from among the dead, the firstfruits of the resurrection. The glorious age to come has dawned. The future has broken in on the present evil age. 

Translation: Hope is not in the future. It is from the future. The future has now dawned in the present. 

7 The end of all things is near.

Wake up sleeper and rise from the dead. . . 

Your turn: 

THE PRAYER

Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. You are risen, ascended, exalted and reigning. And your mercy is over all your works. The end of all things is near. Holy Spirit draw near and save us from the fear filled anxiety of apocalypticism. Lead us to drink deeply from the heavenly well of eschatological hope. Awaken us from our apathy, from our sluggish slumber, and into this radiant hope that awakens the world. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.

THE QUESTION

How about you? Where do you find yourself right now? Apocalyptic anxiety? Apathetic indifference? Eschatological hope? Is there a fourth option? Are you seeing the differences? 

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

7 COMMENTS

  1. J D; Again,I thank you for your willingness to challenge us to self examination. I believe that you’ve laid out the landscape of our current eschatological assumptions. Having been raised in a faith tradition that denied dispensationalism, I was spared all the apocalyptic craziness. On the other hand, faith was presented as acceptance of the correct doctrinal propositions, so not a lot of spiritual fervor there. Having been exposed to multiple theories concerning the end times, I’ve landed mostly on door #3. I personally believe that we ( the church) are locked into a fierce spiritual battle between the forces of good and evil. The real danger for true believers at this time is the temptation to fight this battle with the weapons of the flesh. This war will not be won through the use of political, military, or economic weaponry. Christ must be lifted up so that He can draw all men unto himself. To accomplish this, the so-called “laity” are going to have to accept our calling to some form of kingdom ministry due to our baptism into the Body of Christ.

  2. 7 The end of all things is near.

    Way #4: The clock’s running down. Time is short. Give your all for the kingdom of God with whatever time you have left. Heaven is forever and God’s will is always done there. Not so on earth though. Here, the will of God is often resisted, ignored, and violated by the human will. On earth there is a continual battle between God’s will and human and demonic rebellion. The Moravians called this ongoing fight of the present age, the Lamb’s War. However, soon that war will end and the victory of Jesus, the Lamb of God, will be obvious to all people, to all demons, and to all creation.

    In the meantime, if you’re reading this, the fight between God’s will and rebellion is still raging both around you and within you. There’s still time on the clock for you to make a difference in the epic battle of the universe. Don’t sit on the bench. Don’t ask the coach to take you out of the game. Don’t coast on grace! Don’t be a slouch and half-heartedly follow God’s playbook. And please don’t fumble (accidentally or intentionally) your assignments and give momentum to the powers in rebellion against God.

    No matter how far away the end of all things is, the end of your life is closer than you think. Get on fire for God, “quench not the Spirit,” and “fight the good fight of faith” with weapons that “are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and bringing every thought into obedience to Christ.” Do it now! Do it until you die. And do it every moment in between!” The end is near! Fight!!!

  3. I don’t know what “times” these are. My own life has had its own apocalyptic experience that resulted in what I thought i could trust–the church– I no longer know how to trust. Christianity in America has become a dizzying array of options; none of which meet me where I am and give me space to step into where I need to be. So, I am now de-churched and running an antique mall. The biggest lesson I have learned in all this is that the best thing a Christian can do is “show up” for others.

    One thing I can take from my previous life as a cradle Methodist are the stories my Mother told me about Christians who believed they knew the day of Jesus’ return. They would get up in the morning, put on white robes and go to a field to wait; at the end of the day they would have to go home and cook supper. Although I voted for him, I do not believe Trump is some sort of biblical answer to America’s problems. However, I do believe America’s spiritual problems have now morphed into their political problems. I believe Jesus when he said the He did not initially come into the world to judge/condemn it but rather to save it; but along the way He told some hard truths about how things got off track. The biggest problem with the current church landscape is there is no coherent understanding of how things did get off track. I know that, without a doubt, historic liturgical worship was not the culprit.

    Through no fault of my own, I am more of an historical liturgical Christian than I am a biblical Christian. However, it was a deeper dive into that historical liturgy that enabled me to finally stand in the wide open space of God’s most amazing grace and knowing that, without a doubt, only a fool would reject what God has to offer through Jesus. On the other side of that most amazing encounter with God, the Bible began to “make more sense” because I knew without a doubt that I had been unfolded into God’s most amazing story of salvation and redemption that never ends. The only reason I ever hung in with Christianity in the first place is because I knew without a doubt that it had not just fallen from the sky 2,000 years ago but it has deep roots. Those deep roots became my safety net when things went south with my long time local UMC.

    I do not doubt that somewhere in all the current chaos and churning the Christian/church landscape has become, God is at work; but it can be hard to tell exactly where that is. In this corner of the world, Mainline Protestant Christianity is all but done. So far only one former Mainliner church has joined its break-off denomination and another has gone independent. The brand of Christianity currently winning the numbers game is non-denominational generic evangelical Bible based Christianity. Problem is, I know a biblical Christian with whom I share common understandings who walked away from it and now also no longer knows who to trust.

    There is only one thing I can do when I wake up each morning: Choose to live my life that day as God’s immortal; whatever that means. Running an antique mall, there are plenty of opportunities to interact with a wide variety of people–from the desperate economically wealthy to the destitute picker scrambling to survive and everything in between, including some I am less than comfortable with. Most days I am caught between the customers who want a deal and my vendors who want the most they can get. Through the vendors who rent space from me, I have had to deal with people going through a wide range of life experiences, including death of a vendor to the senseless and brutal murder of a son and everything in between. The vendor I am closest to has gone down the Quanon rabbit hole.

    Thing is, if I spend enough time talking with any one of them as a fellow human being, it never fails that the image of God finally surfaces–even in the ones that make me the most uncomfortable……..

    When in need of inspiration, rather than the Bible, my default is usually the historical liturgy and/or classic hymns–although I have acquired a few more modern hymns. I need the reminder that I am nowhere near being the first nor the last to embark on what, at the moment, feels like such a ridiculous and costly journey!

    • Betsy, I have a word of encouragement for you. You are not alone on your journey. Pray that God in His mercy will lead you to encounter others in your same situation. There is a book entitled Church Refugees that documents that you are among a group of former institutional church members known as the “dones”. This books chronicles why. I pray that God will reunite you with Christian fellowship, even if it’s unconventional.

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