It’s the End of the World as We Know It
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let everyone who hears say, “Come.” And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift. … The one who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! – Revelation 22:17, 20 (NRSV)
Talking about the apocalypse makes me uncomfortable. It makes me feel awkward. It makes me feel—I don’t know—unsophisticated. For that reason, I have not usually been much of a proponent of the apocalypse. In my preaching, I am like as not to describe apocalypticism as part of a prophetic continuum. The apocalypse offers hope in extremis, the form of hope for those most disappointed by the present reality.
Riveting stuff, eh?
But try as I might to intellectualize-away the apocalypse in Christianity, it is an indispensable part of our faith. Where the world is headed has already been decided, our faith declares. And the joy and peace and harmony will be a radical break from things as they are. A new heaven and a new earth, nothing less.
What, then, ought Christians do? Kick up our heels and relax knowing that God has got it in hand? Despise the world and its ways, knowing that a new one is yet to come? Far from it. St. John tells us that we ought to fling open the doors as wide as they can be. Come to the waters, you thirsty! Come to the river of life, you who are sick unto death! Possessed of the good news of what is to come, our lives will be thanksgiving for the goodness of our God, as the well-known hymn puts it.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
John Edgerton is Lead Pastor at First United Church of Oak Park, Illinois.