And today is the last one.
I remember the first time I heard about this passive-aggressive prediction. It was eerie and freaky, and I totally believed it. I had all these images from the movies I’ve seen about the end of the world flash through my mind. There were volcanoes and lava or earthquakes and asteroids (there’s always an asteroid isn’t there?), and then finally at the last minute Will Smith comes in and saves the world.
Those are the images we’ve been handed for how to think about the end of the world.
And I think they’re wrong.
So it’s Christmas time. And for a lot of us that means shopping and parties and eggnog. But if you’re afraid of the end of the world tomorrow, than I think Christmas can really bless you today. Another word for the Christmas season is Advent. And Advent is just the Latin word for “Coming” It’s the idea that Jesus came into the world, and that he will one day soon come into the world again.
Advent is about the longing that is in every human heart, a desire, an ache that we all share for things to be different, for there to be no more cancer, or school shootings. It’s a hope for the world to be made new.
At the heart of Advent is the recognition that something is missing.
And Christmas reminds us that this something is really a someone.
I’m preaching this Sunday on a text from 1st Peter that has really captured my imagination the past few weeks. I rarely blog about what I’m about to preach on, but since enough people think that the end of the world just might happen tomorrow, I wanted to share a word of hope that might bless you this Christmas.
When Jesus first met Peter, he was a rough-around-the-edges fisherman. He was impulsive. He was a racist, he was a self-promoting, fearful bigot. In other words, he was a human. And Jesus found Peter, trained him and taught him for years. Peter betrayed, annoyed, and refused Jesus. And Jesus just kept pushing into Peter’s life. Jesus forgives again and again, he piles grace upon grace for Peter.
But when Jesus’ life comes to it’s most critical moment, when Jesus is headed to the cross, and needs a friend the most, Peter doesn’t show up for Jesus. And so after Jesus dies, Peter goes back to fishing. Then Jesus is raised from the dead, he shows up to all the disciples, and Peter just keeps on fishing. Because Peter now knows that he is a total failure.
But at least he knows how to fish.
Now up until this point, the Prodigal Son was just a story that Jesus had told. But in John 21 it’s a story that Jesus acts out. Jesus runs to Peter. Jesus hasn’t given up on him. And it’s here that Peter learns that no failure is too big for Jesus to overcome.
Flash forward several decades, and Peter is shepherding a church. Just like Jesus had asked him to do on the day that he found him back at the boat. And this is what Peter tells this church:
Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.
Did you catch that? The grace to be brought to you when Jesus comes back.
Which just happens to be something that Peter is a bit of an expert on. And so now, when Peter thinks about the Second Coming, when he thinks about the end of the world as we know it, Peter isn’t worried. For Peter, When Jesus comes back it will be grace upon grace. And that doesn’t mean there won’t be any judgment. Peter spent 3 and a half years with Jesus, he got in trouble all the time, for doing some pretty goofy stuff.
But Peter’s not worried, because Peter knows Jesus.
There are so many funny stories about end of the world prophecies. Did you know that there have been over 160 major predictions that the world was going to end? And these are just the ones that have already turned out to be wrong.
Today, there are atheist’s that run dog care providers for people who are worried about being raptured up to Heaven, but don’t want to leave Mr. Pickles without food. The Left Behind series sold over a billion dollars worth of books, and most of it is centered around how destructive Jesus’s return will be.
So is it any wonder that so many people are terrified about tomorrow? It’s been so unhelpful the way that Christians have talked about the 2nd coming of Jesus. Because most of the time we are telling people that they need to fear Jesus’ return.
But that goes against the grain of the way the earliest Christians talked about it. Not that God wasn’t going to judge the world, God takes evil very seriously. But they never forgot that the God who was going to judge is very, very good.
That’s why the earliest Christians were always saying “Come quickly, Lord Jesus”
When God reveals Himself, it’s not a threat, it’s grace upon grace.
So if the Mayans were right, if the world ends tomorrow. Than Peter would tell you, the earliest Christians would tell you, that means that tomorrow is going to be a very good day.
But feel free to stay close to Will Smith.This is the final post in a series on Advent called “Something is Missing”