Do Not Fear the End

The Gospel of Luke (21:5-11) describes a scene when many people had gathered near the Jerusalem Temple, and were admiring its grand beauty.  Jesus uses the moment to prophesy about the future destruction of the temple, when “there will not be left a stone upon another stone….” (NAB, LK 21:5) He then goes on to describe what is to be expected before the end, when the final judgment comes. Revelation adds light to when this will happen and describes the occasion of that final gathering of the faithful as when “the time to reap has come, because the earth’s harvest is fully ripe.” (RV 14:15) Jesus provides an incredible and terrifying list of signaling events: wars, famines, destruction, plagues, insurrections, and a host of natural disasters.

Knowing all this is to come, however, Jesus lovingly reminds us, “Do not be terrified.” (21:9) It is a constant theme in Scripture: “Do not be afraid.” Various biblical translators indicate that the phrase “do not be afraid,” or some rendition or form of it, occurs about 365 times in the Bible! Perhaps God wanted to give us a daily reminder to not fear the things of this world, to remember that we belong to a family and a Kingdom that will never die and will never end. It seems reasonable for us to be fearful when the world is in such turmoil, with violence, injustice, and death at every corner, but we have a surpassing force in Jesus Christ that is greater than any power, principality, authority, or dominion on earth.

Father, strengthen my faith in your Son, Jesus Christ. Give me the power and light of your Holy Spirit to see beyond the darkness of this world, to know that you are always here, that you are always in control, and that you always love me with an incomprehensible love, a love through which only an infinitely merciful and just God can overcome the evils of this world. Amen.

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An Unknown Time

Some in society have become very concerned about the end of the world. There are many late-night televangelists whose preaching is nearly completely focused on this topic. There are even entire book series dedicated to analyzing and making predictions about the “rapture” and “end times,” including who will be taken and who will be “left behind.” These fictionalized accounts and gross mis-interpretations of scripture are well written, widely preached, and entertaining, but are wholly lacking in fundamental Biblical and Apostolic Truth as taught by Jesus himself.

The Truth is that the end of the world will eventually come, and those who are with God will live forever in Heaven, while those who choose otherwise in their lives, will endlessly suffer in Hell. What we can be most assured of, if history is any lesson at all, is that each one of us will die and make an individual account for our lives. We trust in the God who has no beginning and no end, the one who created everything out of nothing, the one who will preside at the final judgment in infinite love, mercy, justice, and forgiveness.

As Jesus says, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But of that day or hour, no one knows.” (NAB, MK 13:31-32) So, let us keep working out our salvation in our daily commitment to our Lord. The end of the world has not yet come, but we frequently encounter “ends” in our daily life. Each of these ends is accompanied by a new beginning, a new opportunity to love, a new invitation to grow, and a new call to draw closer to Jesus. Let us take advantage of these moments in our lives while time is still on our side.

Father, I know not when my life will end, nor do I know when your judgment will come. Give me your grace to end my current life of self-centeredness, pride, selfishness, foolishness, and egoism, so that I may begin to live for you alone, by loving you and loving my neighbor. Then, when I am confronted with my life’s choices on that unknown day, I may rest in the assurance that I chose you. Amen.

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