The End is Near (Or Drink a Beer)

Isis is cutting heads off of people.

Iran might soon have nuclear weapons.

Gay people are getting married.

Barak Obama is taking over control of the internet.

Certainly we are in the end times! Quick, rush to your backyard fallout shelter!

Or maybe we need to simmer down a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty p-ed off that ISIS is kidnapping and raping and murdering. And Iran getting nukes is probably a bad thing. The Bible is pretty clear that sex is for marriage and marriage is for a man and a woman. And the internet, well, maybe we need some guidance there.

Yes, the world has gone to hell–but let’s not kid ourselves–it’s been there for a while. Think of the millions of Jews that were murdered in the Holocaust (don’t forget USSR’s black mark on history either). What about the Black Death killing 200 million people in the 14th century? Or the Holy Lands being taken forcefully by Muslims, then Christians, then Muslims again? The fall of Rome certainly felt like the end of the world. And I bet the Jews watching their beloved Temple destroyed in 70 AD felt like Jesus was coming back soon.

The world sucks right now. 

Paul, when writing his two letters to the Thessalonians, confronted the fears that the end of the world was on them. In 1st Thessalonians Paul writes:

For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. (1 Thessalonians 5:2-6 ESV)

Be awake! The end is coming! Don’t get drunk and miss it!

But apparently the Thessalonians became end times crazy. They were panicky. “Did we miss it? Has he come yet? The world has gone to pot–certainly Jesus has come back by now!”

Which caused Paul to write in his second letter to the Thessalonians:

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? (2 Thessalonians 2:1-5 ESV)

News flash Thessalonians. News flash American Christians. Don’t be alarmed. Don’t be deceived. The Lord’s day has not yet come. A “man of lawlessness” has not yet proclaimed himself to be God–nor sat in the Temple of God. Obama hasn’t. The Pope hasn’t.

Folks, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the end is right around the corner. But I’m still not going to panic. Rather,  I’ll obey the words of Paul, “So then, brother, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” (2 Thessalonians 2:15 ESV).

I’m not going to jump at every noise in the dark. I’m going to continue to worship the King of Light. I won’t get drunk whether with liquor, deceitful theology, or misplaced ambitions for power. I’ll worship Jesus with all I am, I’ll kick up my feel and have a responsible beer or two, and I’ll continue the work he left us to do–to bring the Kingdom of God to Earth by proclaiming the Gospel to my family, friends, neighbors, and world. I’ll work to fight injustice and to protect the vulnerable. I’ll do my best to care for this marvelous blue marble God has given us.

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