Some people live in fear of that question, some plain ignore it. Neither work for me. I admit to mixed emotions when I think about The End, but I like to live in the light of it.
1) Bemused: The Mayans simply ran out of room on their calendar stone! Hollywood is great at making block-buster, global events over stories based on the flimsiest of pretexts (Hello, Dan Brown.) If you’ve lived more than a decade, you’ve seen lots of these end-of-the-world predictions come and go. We know it’s just another fear-driven marketing tool!
2) Serious: I do take seriously that one day there will be an end to time-as-we-know-it. And it may even be within our life-time, because of the exponential way global limits are coming to a head, like over-population, economics, energy supply, environmental limits, and gospel communications. But not in 2012.
3) Steadfast, excited, scared, trusting: Things haven’t yet come to a head. I can’t tell the future, but I can tell you the end of the world won’t be in 2012, because everyone says so, and Jesus says no-one knows the time of the end-of-the-world: it will take us all by surprise, like a thief in the night. (So in 2013 I’ll be saying, “I told you so, no-one knows”… then, Bam! the end might come! D’oh!)
How nigh The End is, is a serious field of study in theology, simply because it is in the Bible. Understanding it is worthwhile. What do we make of it?
In very general terms we can say that there will be an end eventually, there will be a happy ending for them that go along with God, and a sad ending for them that oppose God.
However the details, become more speculative, because we’re talking about the future we haven’t experienced yet, and about other-dimensional realities with which we have precious little experience!
- It may be that the rapture occurs extracting all the bad people first – that would certainly change the world as we know it! – then under God we re-jig the way we do things here.
- It may be that the existing heaven and earth will be somehow renewed.
- It may be that the existing heaven and earth are incorporated into the other dimensions in a new way.
- It may be that this world of time and space is replaced with a new spiritual one.
Because I’m not an expert, I say the end of the world “as-we-know-it,” because it may not be a simple end, ceasing to be.
Note: we better be careful with this planet just in case we’re stuck with it. Even if not, God told us to look after it anyway.
How should we live in light of The End?
Whenever and however it comes, I’ll face it like I face death (our personal “end”): with a mixture of grief, sadness, loss, fear-of-the-unknown, yes, but also Hope, excitement-about-the-Known, faith, love, relief, maybe even a sense of adventure. And I can only say those positive things because:
1. I’m convinced of the historicity of Jesus’ resurrection, and
2. the living dynamic of the Holy Spirit within me as the “first deposit” of that spiritual Life to come.
So then, you must always be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you are not expecting him. (Matthew 24 & 25)
Live as if He is already here – because He is!
Then your last day will have continuity with the New Day.