At a consultation with a church session (governing board) a couple of weeks ago, I was asked about the end times â€¦ what does the Bible say we should expect of the church during the end times?Â Being a good Presbyterian, I evaded the question, thinking it came from a â€œLeft Behindâ€ mindset and not well grounded in Reformed Theology.Â But, I have to admit, despite the fact that the whole end of the world thinking is not considered orthodox by most Presbyterians, I do sometimes wonder â€¦ the things going on in the world today make our time seem so â€¦ dangerously potent.Â Change is occurring more rapidly than ever before, and there are now global implications for decisions we make â€¦ if not the â€œend timesâ€ we are definitely living through a time pregnant with possibility.
Weâ€™ve all heard that weâ€™re in a time of â€œemergingâ€, both in the church and in the so many other aspects of our culture.Â This weekâ€™s Futuring study brought about a huge â€œah haâ€ for me â€¦ if itâ€™s a time of something new emerging, then itâ€™s also the time of something old dying.Â I know â€¦ it takes me a while sometimes ;)Â One of our leaders presented some information from a book about the natural cycles of generations, with the opinion that we are currently in the â€œfourth turningâ€, a time of crisis.Â But times of crisis are always followed by the birth of something new.
Everything has a season the verse says in Ecclesiastes.Â Everything runs in cycles.Â There is time of birth and a time of death, but the death always leads to a new birth.Â There was a huge transition from the hunting/gathering/tribal times to the agricultural times which was the birth of â€œcivilizationâ€ as we know it.Â We are now in a similar shift from â€œcivilizationâ€ to â€œglobalization.â€Â If heâ€™s right, then we are at the end of civilization.Â The question I raise, though, is that so bad?Â I think globalization is where we ought to be headed,Â Knowing where weâ€™re headed means we have the ability to not just forsee the future, but to shape the future â€¦ and how we shape it is so vitally important.
But â€¦ I am also very much aware that for some who donâ€™t embrace change and who canâ€™t see a glimpse of the global/Kingdom vision of the new millenium, the end of civilization as we know it, IS the end of the world.Â Itâ€™s catastrophe; itâ€™s the end times; itâ€™s judgment day.Â Perhaps thatâ€™s why fear and violence are so rampant.Â Perhaps thatâ€™s why there are so many in our churches hoping to wake up tomorrow in 1959.Â Because the future will be so different; the end of civilization means the end of christendom, the end of denominationalism, the end of the Christian Empire â€¦ but Iâ€™m wondering â€¦ even with that, could our future be just a little closer to the Kingdom?
So,Â Iâ€™m wondering â€¦ what do the â€œend timeâ€ Bible readings have to say to us in this time of re-birth, transition, paradigm-shifting, a new millennium?Â Maybe The Book of Revelation and other apocryphal passages are meant to be metaphorical and speak directly to all of us going through â€œthe fourth turning.â€Â Or any â€œend timeâ€ such as the fall of Jerusalem, the fall of the Roman Empire, and, now, the fall of the American Empire.
Itâ€™s funny â€¦ when I read the first few â€œLeft Behindâ€ books, I thought it would be a huge responsibility as well as a great adventure to be left behind â€¦ to be the ones interpreting, discerning, and leading into a new future â€¦ but isnâ€™t that what weâ€™re doing now?Â The emerging church movement and others â€¦ we are the shapers of the new age.Â It’s time to pray.