The classic cartoon that shows a man holding a sign with the slogan – “The world will end today!” and a policeman who is standing talking to him saying, “I don’t want to see you here tomorrow!” reminds me of the numerous times ‘predictions’ which have been made about the end of the world. Apparently as the world neared 1000 A.D. several prognositications were made about a ‘Dooms day’ ending. Various groups, evangelical and otherwise, have made rash predictions with a specific date about the end. By the way, “88 reasons why Christ must come in 1988” is quite cheap at yard sales….
What does Peter mean when he writes – “The end of all things is near……” Was he misguided? How do you reconcile this with the strategic ‘foundation laying role’ (Ephesians 2:20) which Christ assigned to him in the building of the church? Was this simply his own assessment as he looked at the ‘ills’ of the Roman empire?
There is a sense of ‘imminence’ running elsewhere through the pages of Scripture. The ‘imminence’ of death and judgment may be found in
a) Joel 2:1 “Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the LORD is coming.”
b) Obadiah v.15 “The day of the LORD is near for all nations…..”
c) Zephanian 1:14 “The great day of the LORD is near–near and coming quickly…..”
d) Luke 12:40 Speaking to his disciples, Jesus declares – “You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
e) Philippians 4:5 “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”
Christians must live with a sense of readiness. What are the implications of imminence? “The end of all things is near. THEREFORE
1) be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.
Prayer is not an easy discipline despite some of the ‘idyllic’ hymns we sing – e.g. “I come to the garden alone while the dew is still on the roses…..” Prayer requires a clear mind–one that is not distracted and self-control–a clear understanding of myself and need before a holy God.
2) Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
Whatever lies ahead for Christians individually or collectively, we are called to manifest a deep God-centred love for each other. I’m not sure we ‘get’ this as I read Facebook posts, various blogs and the rants of some who feel it is their mission in life to dissect every nuance of every word ever uttered and do so incessantly. We are called to judge and assess, to ‘speak the truth’ but ‘in love….’ not in ‘self-righteousness.’
I leave you to wrestle further with Peter’s sense of ‘the end,’ but also the serious call to godly living. Perhaps less ‘prophetic’ speculative novels, less ‘date-setting,’ less ‘prophetic’ movies and more holy lifestyle changes would convince others that we really do believe ‘the end is near.’