The history of the world, specifically as it involves human beings, has seen vastly different cultures with varying levels of social, economic and technological abilities, or lack thereof. All these generations, regardless of enormous differences, had one similarity: Each contained countless people who thought the world was going to end in their lifetimes.
That’s millions and millions, if not billions of people. They were all wrong. All of them. That’s a track record that’s even worse than modern-day congressional Democrats.
Given that, what are the chances that those in our generation who say we’re witnessing the end of days are correct? Those odds are right up there with the chances that Adam Sandler will soon release a convincing Shakespearian film, and that Amelia Earhart will glide in for a smooth landing any second now.
Our generation has its share of these doomsdayers as well. Each generation can point to various things that may seem to spell out an imminent return of Christ: The situation(s) in the Middle East; pestilence, famine, and hurricanes; world wars; disco; Mel Gibson’s anti-Jewish tirade – you name it.
We humans are the exception to many of our own rules. We are the I after the E except before C. We run with scissors, swim right after eating and put things smaller than our elbows in our ears. A stitch in time only saves us five, at most. We’ve revised Newton’s third law to read, “For every action, there’s an equal but opposite lawsuit.” We’ve had wars for no reason and avoided conflict for the wrong reasons. These exceptions cause confusion and, in this confused state, we turn to a higher power and ask for help – now!
Here’s a very recent example. Newsweek interviewed Tim LaHaye, author of the apocalyptic “Left Behind” series of novels.
Here’s one Q&A from the article:
Q- Couldn’t almost anything then be taken as a clue that any point in history might be the end times?
A- Down through the years that’s true. But never the accumulation of events as we have today. I have often said that no one knows the day nor the hour that Christ will come, but no generation has had so many signs of the times as our generation. We have more reason to believe that Christ could come in our lifetime than any generation before us.
The generation preceding Mr. LaHaye thought that, too. Why? Because it’s true, in a sense. The Bible tells us Jesus will return, just not exactly when. If Jesus hasn’t returned with each passing generation, succeeding generations do indeed have more and more reason to believe it will happen during their generation. The anticipatory pressure is just too much for some of us to bear, and we seem to think that if we just say it often enough, it will happen.
I’m betting that Mr. LaHaye, in spite of being encouraged by the belief that Jesus will return very soon, is still exercising cautious pessimism by staying busy working on another novel or two.
We see evangelists on television every day providing doomsday-oriented head-first dives into Revelation who think the end of the world is so near that your next breath could be your last. At the same time, the end is never so near as to assume that you won’t have time to order and watch a DVD about Armageddon, or see next week’s program, which is promoted with reckless abandon.
This is where we as Christians must exercise responsibility and stop sensationalizing our religion. Do we believe in Christ? Yes. Do we believe He will return someday? Yes. Will that be in our lifetime? Odds are, no. Sorry. Look at the numbers.
Constant doomsday talk does little to help the real problems we face. Sure, I wish Jesus could return and make it all better – end the wars, defeat poverty, obliterate starvation and racism, and permanently cancel all the lousy sitcoms – but insisting He is coming, and soon, conveys to people that we should do nothing to fix whatever situation in which we find ourselves, because it will soon be fixed for us. This mindset is nothing more than an ecclesiastical dependency culture, and I don’t think Jesus is just all right with that.
Thanks to generation after generation after generation of some people being absolutely positive that Jesus was returning in their lifetimes, the welcome mat is a bit worn out from everybody throwing it down each time there’s global strife.
Let’s take a short break and get a new mat – one that’s more fitting for the King of kings. I think we have a little more time to properly prepare.