KEEPING THE FAITH: Hope over hysteria

Published: Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 12:51 PM.

As I have gotten older, however, I see a more pronounced difficulty with constant “end-of-the-world” preaching. Entire congregations of people become so obsessively convinced that we are living in the final chapter of human history — on the last page, if not within the last sentence — that they begin to give away the future.

Ultimately, it is extremely difficult to give one’s self to today, to incarnate God’s love for the world, to alleviate the grotesque levels of suffering on this planet, or to practice justice, peace-making, and grace when one’s attitude is, “Why bother? It’s all going to burn up in ashes any minute now.”

Unbalanced apocalypticism simply makes it easy to give up on today. It fosters a view of the future that is dark and sinister. It creates a kind of apathy and hopelessness toward the planet. We become little more than caricatures of today’s politicians who choose to kick the worst problems down the street for another generation to wrestle with, long after they have left office. We become freakish doomsday preparers, who misunderstand that the best preparation is joining God in his transforming work rather than watching the clock for the end of the world.

No, “God is not slow about keeping his promises,” but the truth is that Jesus will probably not return today, and it’s not likely he will return in our lifetime. Therefore, we have to be more than prepared for his imminent return. We must be prepared to persevere. We must trade in our misapplied hysteria for living out a very real hope, the “Blessed Hope.” We must learn to live in the actual here and now, not the hypothetical tomorrow.

Ronnie McBrayer is a syndicated columnist, pastor, and author of multiple books. You can read more and receive regular e-columns in your inbox at www.ronniemcbrayer.me.



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