Sunrise at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Instructions for facing the end of the world

If the world were going to end today, what would your life look like? If you knew that this was your last day on earth, how would your life change from what it is now? Would you rush out and spend all the money you could? Would you quit your job and spend your last 24 hours in relative relaxation? Would you do that one thing you’ve always been too scared to try?

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news (or good news, depending on how you look at it), but the world is going to end a lot sooner than anybody thinks. And knowing that, shouldn’t that affect the way we live? Shouldn’t that affect our priorities?

Sunrise at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Sunrise at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are 1 Peter 4:7-8.

The end of the world is coming soon. Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers. Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.

The Bible is full of examples talking about the end times and what they will look like, and I’m of the school of thought that says we’re living in the end times. I’m sure there are many who would dispute it, and I’m certain those who would dispute have evidence to point to. But whether we’re actually living in the end times or not, there are enough verses throughout scripture that warn of the end coming soon it’s something to pay attention to.

The end of the world has always been a topic of discussion in books and movies. For a while, Hollywood went through this phase where every other movie that came out dealt with the end of the world in some way, shape, or form. Like 2012 or The Day After Tomorrow or other movies of that genre. Of course, then there’s the zombie movie genre, like 28 Days Later and Resident Evil, or the postapocalyptic movies like I Am Legend and other movies like that, which don’t really use nature as the enemy but a disease. But the concept is still there. The concept of the world ending has always fascinated people because it’s something we can’t stop. Unless you’re a fan of superhero movies (guilty), and then the fate of the world rests on the hero’s shoulders. But people like stories, and story is conflict. And there’s no great conflict than the catastrophe we can’t stop. That’s what makes those movies so interesting. People can’t stop their impending doom. All they can do is the best they can to survive, to keep living, to retain whatever they can of what used to be.

The Bible is many things, but among its vast repertoire of possible blurbs for back cover copy, it’s an instruction manual on how to live. And I find it very interesting that the two instructions it gives for facing the end of the world are prayer and love. Prayer and love? Is that really all you need to face the end? Don’t you need a generator? Don’t you need a chemical toilet? Don’t you need to invest all your finances in gold or in unperishables? Well, according to the Bible, what you need is to pray and to love each other. And it says that even between those two, love is more important.

And we’re not talking just passive love. If you check out verse 8 in the Amplified Version, this is what it says:

Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and disregards the offenses of others].

So what does this mean for us today? Well, I don’t know about you, but I struggle with loving people on good days. I have a hard time extending grace to people who don’t live up to my expectations. And that’s not love. I need to have an intense and unfailing love for my brothers and sisters in Christ because we are rapidly approaching the end and we’re all struggling. And the thing about this kind of love is that it’s not something that just happens. It’s something you have to choose.

The common thread in most of those movies where the world is ending is that the characters who make it out alive are the ones who focus on what matters. Those people who get caught up in the minor details and the unimportant things are the ones who get eaten or smashed or whatever. And as strange as this sounds, I think that’s where we need to be. Yes, the details are important. Yes, the differences are important too. But above all else, brothers and sisters, we need to love each other. If we have Christ in common, we’re family.

Stay focused on what matters. God will help us sort out our differences if we cling to Him. Pray and love and let the end of the world come.

Mayan ruin - Tikal, Peten, Guatemala

How do you live at the end of the world?

I don’t trust the Mayans. So when I see a lot of people up in arms about the world supposedly ending on December 21 this year, I don’t exactly roll my eyes, but I certainly don’t take them seriously. People thought there would be a catastrophe in 2001 too. Remember Y2K? And I think it was this year or maybe last year when someone started assuring everyone that the end of the world would come then. But it didn’t. And unfortunately, those folks have been made into the Boy who cried wolf.

It’s unfortunate because the world as we know it will end someday soon. The Bible promises that it will, but the Bible assures us that no man knows the day it’s going to happen. Not sure how this is possible, but even Christ said that only God the Father knows that date (Matthew 24:36).

So where does that leave us? It leaves us on the cusp; that’s where we are. I’m no scholar, but if I’m right, there’s only one prophecy that remains to be fulfilled. And that is for the whole world to have the opportunity to know Christ. Folks are still working on that because there are still some areas of the globe where Christ hasn’t been shared, but once that happens? Everything else the Bible has prophesied would happen has happened.

And this isn’t like some wild-eyed prophet preaching about the end of the world. It’s not like a blockbuster movie where the world experiences all sorts of crazy natural disasters. It’s not like a computer bug that will send our culture rocketing back to the stone age. This is a promise in a Book that was written thousands of years ago by more than 60 different authors over a period of thousands of years, a Book that doesn’t contradict itself once and that has remained relevant to culture in spite of radical changes in the world. It’s not a promise made in chaos; it’s a promise that comes from a trustworthy, consistent source. And actually, it’s not even the end of the world; it’s the beginning of the end of the world, and the only thing we know is that it’s going to happen sooner rather than later.

Mayan ruin - Tikal, Peten, Guatemala

Mayan ruin – Tikal, Peten, Guatemala

Today’s verses are Romans 13:8-11

Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, “You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.” These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfills the requirements of God’s law. This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out. Wake up, for our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.

The Ten Commandments were given to the Israelites so that they would know what God expected of them. If anyone can follow the Ten Commandments word-for-word perfectly every day of their lives, they are worthy to have a relationship with God. But no one can do that. That’s the true point of the Ten Commandments, to show us that we need God and that we need His forgiveness if we want to walk with Him. So the Ten Commandments show us what God expects from us and how to live, but since we are incapable of meeting His expectations and He offers us forgiveness for that, the Ten Commandments represent a lifestyle instead.

But who can keep track of ten laws? Maybe that’s lazy of me to say, but that’s a lot, especially in day-to-day life. I’m all for summaries, although I’m sure you would never believe it because of the length of these crazy devos.

The Ten Commandments can be summarized in two phrases: Love God. Love people.

God should come first in our lives. No one should be a higher priority than He is. Our lives belong to Him anyway, and the least we can do is give ourselves back to Him. That’s salvation. That’s why Christ came and died for us.

But what about the rest? Love people. That’s how we show we’re different from people who don’t believe. That’s how we demonstrate that what we believe is real. We love people who don’t deserve to be loved, because God loved us when we didn’t deserve to be loved. That’s what this verse is saying: love people.

Why? Well, other than the fact that God has commanded it, because we don’t have a lot of time left. Yes, Romans was written a very long time ago, and, yes, Paul was saying even then that we didn’t have a lot of time. But look how long it’s taken to get the word out. Thousands of years have passed and the whole world still doesn’t know.

So what does all this mean for today?

I’m tired. I’m bone weary of our culture and the darkness. I’m tired of being looked at funny when I talk about living the way Christ has told us to. And I’m tired of being sad and grieving for a world (and even other believers) that has turned their backs on the God who gave so much to save them. But I can be encouraged because I trust Scripture and I trust God, and everything points to the fact that Christ is coming back soon. Very soon.

So I’m going to keep pressing forward. I’m going to love people, and I’m going to love people now more than I did yesterday because if God can use my love to turn someone’s heart toward Him in these last days, it will be worth it. And love has a better chance of that than pounding them on the head with a Bible.

And who knows? Maybe December 21 is it. Because, seriously, who really does know for sure?