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Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Apocalypse or Not?

In historical scholarship, Jesus is often spoken of as an apocalyptic prophet. His ministry began with the fiery apocalyptic John the Baptist. He spoke of the Son of Man coming to end the violent and evil world and establish a Kingdom of God free of evil and suffering. His later followers taught he was returning soon, in their lifetimes.

The Cambridge University dictionary defines apocalypse: a very serious event resulting in great destruction and change.

But what if it was a different kind of apocalypse of which he spoke? What if the end of the evil world could come simply by living the things he taught? How earth shattering would it be if people began to live with love and forgiveness and generosity? What a death blow to evil it would be if we all lived as he taught!

One of the big hints about this is his story about the sheep and the goats coming to judgement day. The sheep are welcomed in, he says not because they believed in him. They were welcomed because they took care of him, giving him food and drink and comfort. They said they didn't remember doing that. His response was that whoever they did it to, it was like doing it for him.  The goats were directed to hell, and they asked why. He told them it was because they didn't give him food and drink and comfort, etc. 

That ties in with James' idea that faith without works is dead. How we live, the choices we make, change everything. It's not claiming Jesus lives, it's living as Jesus called us to live. We can be made new. The world can be made new.

It's not likely, but imagine with me the powerful, the greedy, the mean spirited, the evil doers suddenly had the fog drop from their eyes, ears, hearts, souls - and they turned to live whole- heartedly out of Jesus' playbook. That would be the most amazing apocalypse ever. The end of all that is evil!

It is not likely, but it is at least remotely possible. It begins with you and me. Can we live as he taught us? Can we begin a ripple that reaches out to include more and more? Can we begin the apocalypse of love and not the one of destruction toward which the "leaders" on our lovely planet seems bent on creating? 

Ask yourself, which apocalypse do you want to be part of?

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