Saturday, May 15, 2010

Does Eschatology Make a Difference?

I have been in the process of looking into different options that I might be interested in pursuing before attending grad school. One of the options is the peace corps. While researching this option with emphasis on how a Christian can effectively be involved and the limitations on Christians, I ran across this quote:

"Christians are to consider themselves as strangers and pilgrims on this earth,and are not called to try in any way to save or improve upon a worldly system which has been created by its Creator for the purpose of being destroyed and replaced with ‘a new heaven and a new earth.’"

This raised my eyebrows. I have great respect for all denominational preferences within orthodox Christianity. I respect those that differ with me on the issue of eschatology (theology of the end of the world/age). However, like all issues, when one takes a position and goes towards an extreme, the implications can manifest themselves in how he or she behaves and interacts with the world around that individual.

The problem I have with the mentioned quote is its similarity to one of Jesus' parables, the servants and the talents. Each servant was given an amount of money by his master and was told to steward the money and be productive. Each servant went about doing just that, except one. The last servant had one meager talent and was so afraid of losing it that he buried it in the ground; holding on to what he had. When the master came back he honored the servants that had been productive, but vehemently chastised the disobedient and cowardly servant.

I feel there is a sub-set of Christians who have come to believe that this fallen world is irredeemable and is set to become the greatest cook-out that has ever been seen. The goal is to hang-on to what remains and wait while culture falls apart in wickedness and darkness. It is rather like a Sleeping Beauty/Snow White story. Christianity sleeps until the prince arrives, kisses His sleeping bride, and then whisks her off to His castle away from all the pain, suffering, and evil queens that this world offers.

While this view makes a good story, I believe that scripture reveals a different narrative. Jesus Himself became part of culture, impacting the lives of broken and hurting individuals. Paul quotes to the Athenian people in Acts 17:28 their own poets, showing that he was aware of culture. Habakkuk 2:14 has a glorious promise of God's Word spreading across the globe as waters cover the sea (which is quite expansive). Isaiah 2:4 speaks of a day when warriors will mold their swords into farming equipment because wars will become extinct and men will no longer learn the art of war.

Some say that we must wait for heaven for all these things to become a reality in a world far away. I personally believe that heaven will be on earth and our vocation and calling as Christians is to restore shalom, or peace, to the world. It is a slow process, but I believe that there will come a day when all nations acknowledge Jesus Christ as Savior and God. Culture will one day glorify Christ. This age ends as Psalm 110:1 notes, until every enemy of Christ is defeated. Thus, I believe this world has an awesome future, which we should become invested in and work to make happen. We only see a sliver of time, but scripture is our guide to what lies ahead. That's my perspective anyway. :)

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