As we know it

This morning the ladies were discussing that the early believers evidently thought God was coming back within a few years, and even though they were wrong there are some indications that God wants each generation to think that, in order to lend urgency to their walk with God.  And this has been bugging me.

For one thing, I’m not sure that it’s true.  “Soon” has a number of meanings, and they could have been mistaken without it’s being God’s will that they be mistaken.  It can be argued either way.  Nor am I sure that the urgency derived from such a belief is entirely beneficial – by making salvation the matter of urgency, we tend to neglect the need for discipleship and training and raising up new leaders.

But it just bugs me that mistaken beliefs and even fearmongering can have positive effects.  I don’t like the principle.  I don’t like the idea of using all sorts of ridiculous conspiracy theories to promote political activism, even if the activism needs to happen.  I don’t like using unproven or disproven theories to make things happen.

I think I’m feeling especially disgruntled about this because one of the ladies at the bible study falls firmly into this category – she keeps bringing printouts of email forwards ranging from improbably to completely ridiculous.  And the occasional true thing, mostly by coincidence.  Birther theories, prophecies from people who have not have prophecies fulfilled in the past, alarms over various health scares, etc etc etc.  Anyway, she wasn’t there today, but the leader was talking about that she should be honored for insisting that these are the Last Days, because that is so clearly what we are supposed to think.

Now, I can honor this lady for her prayers and her love for others and her concern for this country.  It helps that I can compare her to my mother-in-law, who has a rather similar personality, though she doesn’t believe so many silly things.  But I find I can’t honor her for her lack of critical thinking, even if it does seem to bring her in line with the writers of the new testament.

Panic and fear are natural forces, and like most natural forces they tend to get dangerous the more you use them.  You can’t control or direct them, and people who are afraid are completely unpredictable.  My sister pointed out that not everyone regards the Last Days with fear, but without the fear I’m not sure I see what this belief accomplishes.

This isn’t confined to religious things, mind you.  Environmentalism tends to use these tactics, and politics, and education sometimes and the health industry and all sorts of things.  They all tend to use the end to justify these means – and then don’t know how to handle it when these means produce the wrong ends.

Mostly I believe that the truth is always the best option.  That speaking truth never hurts anyone.  (Not necessarily stating facts – on a small scale, those are sometimes best hidden.  But Speaking Truth is a different matter.)  I don’t think using half-truths accomplishes anything.

It’s the end of the world as we know it…and I feel fine.

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2 Responses to As we know it

  1. jamieahughes says:

    Very interesting thoughts here! I instantly thought of 2 Timothy 1:7–“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” We are supposed to be critical thinkers, those who meditate often on His word in order to share it with others in a way that is powerful and convincing. If we continue to run around predicting the end of days like that nut job did earlier this year, all we’re doing is hurting the witness of all Christians. If Jesus Himself doesn’t know the hour of His return, for only the Father knows, I’m pretty sure a radio station broadcaster from Alameda, California doesn’t either. :) We’re meant to always live like the Second Coming is imminent, to keep our eyes and our hearts focused on Him and to reach as many lost folks as possible before that appointed day. Great blog!

    • thanks! 2 Timothy 1:7 is one of my very favorite verses :)

      the whole conversation was triggered by the end of Romans 13, which basically says that the hour is near so we should all behave. And I’m certainly not going to stop people from speculating of the timing of the Lord’s return if it helps their walk with God. But proclaiming a definite opinion about something that so clearly cannot be determined seems awfully silly.

      I’m not at all certain that living like the Second Coming is imminent is always the right thing to do either, though I’m sure that varies a ton from person to person. That it would keep us focused on Him seems unnecessary, since nothing we say or do can change how God sees us, for better or for worse, though I recognize that it’s still fairly instinctive human behavior and therefore potentially helpful. And while a belief in an imminent coming may spur us to reach more of the lost, it may also cause us to neglect teaching new believers and raising up new leaders and studying to find new knowledge, since there isn’t as much of a future to plan for. (I was rather amused when my congregational leader recently said “Yeshua is coming back soon! So get your building donations in!” We are giving to the building fund, of course, but if Yeshua was coming back that soon we’d be silly to be saving for a new building. I don’t think he was paying attention to the juxtaposition, though.)

      Thanks for stopping by!

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