It’s difficult to be optimistic about the future given the last few decades of financial crisis, natural disasters, and man-made catastrophes one after the other. Every year, new block-busters about the apocalypse are released, new novels are written about the end of the world. By the time I was a kid, the Left Behind series was gaining popularity – more and more there were teachings about Revelation and Bible prophecy unfolding in our lifetime.
Perhaps that has something to do with the pessimism that is so prevalent these days. Why bother fixing what is broken when very soon God’s going to destroy it in one of the bowl judgements, the trumpet judgement, or the seal judgements that we have all been taught are going to come to pass? Why bother dealing with poverty when it’s always going to be here? Why bother with being a peacemaker when we have been promised wars and rumors of wars right up until the very end? If we just wait for Revelation, won’t God destroy the whole world and then make a newer, better one?
Have we stopped dreaming for a better, brighter future? Have we stopped hoping for a future without war, disease, poverty, and hunger? Do we even want a future where the only challenge is to improve ourselves and upon our knowledge and understanding of the universe we inhabit? Will we ever travel so far into outer-space that we find another civilization as advanced as ourselves?
I wonder if the story of the Tower of Babel serves as a cautionary tale – that humans should only go so far and no further. We should do only so well and no better. We should reach only so high and not higher; for fear of calamity. We could very well cause the apocalypse we so dread and we so very much look forward to.
I get it – the world’s in bad shape. Our infrastructure is deteriorating, our debt is piling, and our issues are mounting. It’s really easy to do nothing even when it is in our power to do the tiniest thing. Here’s a great opportunity to learn from the Eastern side of the world – where putting people at work is a higher value than working efficiently (with fewer people and more resources.) We can choose to let thousands of robots put people out of work, or we can choose to put thousands of people in those jobs to help them support their families and the generations to come. We can choose to be selfish or selfless. We can choose to donate blood to save lives. We can choose any number of small ways to make a difference – to aim for a brighter future.
Are we afraid that we’ll delay the apocalypse? It’s going to happen on schedule – nothing we do will change that. it might be five minutes, five decades, or five centuries from now. If we imagine it’s five minutes from now, then there’s no amount of preparation one can make that will be sufficient. If it’s five decades, that’s still plenty of time to actually enjoy living life and watching a generation grow up. If it’s five centuries – then whatever we do will ultimately have no impact. Nothing we hoard will last that long. Nothing we save up will endure that long. Nothing we build will stand that long.
Christians were not called to fear the Apocalypse – they’re supposed to be tending the ill, visiting the prisoners, feeding the hungry, and providing basic necessities for all people. They’re supposed to side with the poor and oppressed and stand with them against the rich and the oppressors. To me, the apocalypse is what happens when fear drives Christians to hoard instead of share. To hate instead of love. To take instead of give. To preach the Word instead of living out the Word. To take care of their own instead of taking care of others. We’re supposed to be the optimists who believe that whatever we do matters – it makes a difference even if it’s just a small thing.