Friday, May 27th, 2011
We’re all still here. 21 May was followed by 22 May after all. New day, new mercies, same old faithfulness of God to His creation. Apocalyptic speculations enter the public domain now and then. Most recently Harold Camping’s prediction caught the media’s attention. Saturday has come and gone. He has redone his calculations and postponed the apocalypse to 21 October when an earthquake will bring destruction for all except Christians who will be swept up beforehand. The end of the world as we know it.
While Camping and his followers were bewildered when Sunday came, their personal dislocation will be part of a wider communal dislocation. And therein lies the real tragedy. For, such end-of-the-world speculation is not merely related to the one event; it permeates a worldview. It separates the population in two camps and holds no hope for the wider creation. And while such apocalypticism informs us of a new date, it gives little guidance on how we should live in the meantime.
The day of Christ’s return remains unknown and unspecified. But, interestingly, ‘the day of the Lord’ sheds quite a specific light on our life (Romans 12-13). As the Christian community already experiences the power and gifts of the new day, we adopt a lifestyle that reflects this. Our attitude and behaviour towards enemies, our possessions, relationships, hardships and joys are placed in the context of the new day.
It’s not about knowing the time; it’s about understanding the time. Reflecting upon the present time, Paul’s use of kairos reflects that it is the opportune time, the “now time” in which God’s righteousness is being revealed, a time pregnant with the fulfilment of the promise. So, ‘the day of the Lord’ does not only reflect a sense of urgency, but also a sense of opportunity: the future we anticipate provides a model for our identity right now.
Our stewardship should be about actions that concern justice, love, mercy, and hope. Our hospitality, creation care, generosity, workplace, community life, campaigns, our arts, economy and our character are meant to reflect some of the rays of the new day.
And while destruction is a dominant theme of the recent prediction, the reality is one of hope. Easter reminded us that hope began with Jesus’ resurrection. Eventually, the whole creation will be liberated from its bondage to decay and frustration. Creation was after all submitted ‘in hope’. God is not only involved in reclaiming people, but also in restoring His entire creation. There is hope for renewal rather than solace in the decay.
So, our conversations about ‘the end of the world as we know it’ can be filled with the hope for our world as we envisage it. The new creation - ‘a new heaven and a new earth’ - is filled with the presence of God. That is a lens through which we read the texts, look upon the world, build community, share the gospel, shape reality and value mystery.
In the expectation of Christ’s coming again, we live as faithful stewards. As Jesus points out in the parable of the sheep and the goats with its powerful portrayal of care for the weak and needy, there will be a judgement. In the light of the need of salvation, we go and make disciples in the full awareness that He is with us always, to the end of the age.
Marijke Hoek, Coordinator Forum for Change
© Copyright: Evangelical Alliance 2011
Used by kind permission of the Evangelical Alliance.
This article first appeared on the Evangelical Alliance's Friday Night Theology website.
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