Monday, December 6, 2010

3 great things about the End Times

It's amazing how much "stuff" is out there these days proclaiming the End Times right around the corner, isn't it? And everywhere it's all about how terrifying they will be. I mean, just cast an eye over these Google images for "End Times"! Not a smiling face in the bunch... (until you get to the parodies, that is). And we just hear more and more specific dates for when Jesus is coming back -- as if millions of Christians all around the world just stopped taking their Savior seriously (oh, wait... most Christians stopped doing that about 1,900 years ago).

Of course, all those terrifying images are supposed to scare the non-Christians. They're supposed to make them understand just how desperately they need to be just like the people who put out all those scary images of shrieking babies and so on. Unfortunately, it's not really working because most non-Christians associate shrieking babies with Christian war-lovers and right-wing Christian family abuse.

In fact, all these freaky End Times warnings really do is:
  • scare the Christian people who put them out, 
  • embarrass the Christian people who want to pretend there won't be an End Times,
  • make non-Christians believe they have to be against Jesus to be good people, and 
  • just generally put a real bummer on everyone's spirit. 

Now, there really will be an End Times. And beyond saying they really will be the most horrendous time ever seen on planet Earth, pretty much everything else about them (like, when did/will they start, how will they play out, and so on) is entirely, lovingly debatable even by good Christian people who really know their Bibles and history (despite what we're constantly told by those of Christian Corporate Media).

Still, despite differences of opinion about how the End Times are or will play out, I find three great things we Christians should always remember (and be telling our non-Christian friends and neighbors) about the End Times:

Great Thing # 1 - Jesus and the Bible are far more interested in making sure we know how to make it to and through the End Times, than with specifics on what's going to happen and when.

God wants as many people as possible to make it to heaven. But He knows too that no way could we human beings ever really understand the full depth of what's going to happen, even if He told us every last detail in vivid color. We'd still argue about it, and confuse it, and re-imagine it, and re-translate it, and so on (especially if we have theology degrees or church positions). I mean, He can't even tell us something simple like "turn the other cheek" without us turning it into something else entirely! 

So, just like we don't explain to our kids the how's and why's and histories of, for example, making ourselves presentable to the world each morning, but instead just give them directions like "Brush your teeth", "Wash your face", "Comb your hair", and "Put your school clothes on" -- in the same way God gives us the directions we need to make ourselves presentable for His heaven.

Jesus tells us about the End Times, for example:
  • Don't get tricked or discouraged by what only looks like and pretends to be Christianity (most people will become false Christians, or they will either never choose or will choose to leave the real Jesus because they confuse Him with False Christianity).
  • Don't be afraid when big bad things start to happen (that's just part of the whole plan, and Jesus will make sure you're off-planet before He starts its big "remodel").
  • Don't worry about being persecuted -- expect it even, if you're still among those hanging on to the real Jesus (No matter how it happens, if it happens, just go with what the Holy Spirit puts in your heart, and keep hanging on to Jesus).
  • Keep sharing the Gospel and caring for other people until Jesus comes (stay focused on what's really important, and don't start getting lost in worry, boredom, time-wasting, or sense indulgence and be caught spiritually napping when He arrives).
  • Don't try to figure out when Jesus is coming back (God's doing this by how He counts time, not by how you do).
  • Everyone will know it when Jesus comes back (so don't chase after reports of where He supposedly is, or fear you've missed it somehow).
  • When you see Jesus coming in the clouds, stand up tall and lift up your head! -- this is the best day of your life on this planet!
And that's a lot more human-friendly than if God had said: "Work out exactly what every single cryptic End Times prophecy means before I get back!"

Great Thing # 2 -- just like there are overwhelming and scary labor pains in birth, but then the miracle of new life for a baby, there will be overwhelming and scary labor pains for the End Times, but then New Life for us and the earth.

The Bible says after Jesus comes and rights everything, because the earth itself will finally be completely filled with knowledge of the Lord, even the animals that previously ate other animals will now only eat plants, and peacefully right alongside those animals they used to prey upon. Imagine! Lions eating straw alongside cows. Little children playing quite safety right next to cobra nests. Packs of wolves napping next to little lambs. The earth itself will finally be set right, once again.

The Bible also says that after Jesus makes everything right again, God will wipe every tear from our eye. It says there will never again be death, mourning, crying, or pain. Even more, every brokenness in our bodies will be erased, our bodies made new just like Jesus' resurrected and glorified body was.

When it's time for God to rip the devil-bandaid off the world, just hang in there, knowing that soon and very soon, you are going to see the King -- and then expect only the joy you've earned by toughing it out!

Now, I fully understand the need to let people know there are scary things in store for those who continue to enjoy evil and insist on doing things their own way (instead of God's way). But that's only the subplot to a much larger story.

Jesus didn't come to die an agonized death on the Cross so that human beings could be scared of going to hell, did He? Of course not. He died on the Cross because God loves every person on this planet, no matter what they've already done, no matter what they will do in the future, no matter what they think or ever will think of Him.

Jesus came and died an agonized death on the Cross so that every person who chooses to can be freed from the Roach Motel of sin the devil has placed around this world.

And that's what needs to be shared with ourselves, our friends, our families, our neighbors, and even strangers on the street:
"Friend, there's something really bad coming not too far in the future. And Someone Really Big would like nothing better than for you to know how to avoid it..."
 So, here's Great Thing # 3 about the End Times -- you.

Remember that part of what Jesus said about not being tricked into believing in False Christianity (and make no mistake -- even people who hate False Christianity believe in it, or they wouldn't confuse it with the real thing)? Remember that most people are going to be tricked? The # 3 great thing about the End Times is that you have a chance not only to not be tricked yourself, but to also help others either not be tricked, or get un-tricked, before it's too late.

So, while you are modeling the real Jesus for people who don't know the real Jesus, leaving soul-safe tracts laying around on park benches or bus seats so people can read and think about the Lord privately, helping Gays and straights understand what God really thinks about them, and so on, you can be doing the work God has assigned each of us to do, in preparation for His coming again. 

What are some ways you are already doing God's work to plant seeds of understanding for others regarding the real Jesus, and the real Scripture as God gave it to us? What are some new ways you might be able to help out? Is there someone who needs prayer? A hug? A friendly ear? A fresh look at Scripture?

What can you do to make things great for others, regarding the End Times?

This article written by Lynne at No Junk. Just Jesus. You can contact Lynne at