The End or the Beginning?

war_of_the_worlds_by_ramasg-d502etzThe classic REM song goes something like this:

World serves its own needs, listen to your heart bleed Tell me with the Rapture and the reverent in the right, right You vitriolic, patriotic, slam fight, bright light Feeling pretty psyched It’s the end of the world as we know it It’s the end of the world as we know it It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.

And TS Eliot writes in his poem Hallow Men:

This is how the world ends, this is how the world ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Then there’s Dillion Thomas’ poem that says (which I really think should be read in a thick Scottish brogue):

Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day;  Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

The end is nigh, right? It’s the end of the world as we know it, right? Do I feel fine? I have no idea.

I’ve heard for years (or at least since the early ’90’s) that the world is presently going to H-E-double hockey sticks in a hand basket. The world is a mess and it’s just getting worse. I remember hearing a youth camp back in like ’94 or ’95 that the US culture is just like that of the Roman Empire back during Jesus’ day. They were saying that the world was so corrupt and going south that it was going to be vicious on Christians (I didn’t hear it as much when Bush was in office from conservative Christians but I’ve been hearing it a lot again lately).

It’s been 20 or so years since I heard that. Not much has changed. Yes, we’ve gone through various presidents  and wars, and yes things are changing in this world. But it’s not all evil as some nay sayers say it is 20 years ago or even today.

The end is coming. It really is. I don’t know when it will come though. I don’t know the day nor the hour.

Some don’t think the end will come. Gene Rodenberry envisioned a world centuries from now where humanity went past all difficulties and became a unified whole to go explore the galaxy. Aldous Huxley envisioned a distopia future world where humanity goes so far as to genetically engineer humanity and control the people to the point of inhumanity.

The end will come, eventually. Or will the end be a beginning. To understand what the end will be, we have to look at the beginning. How you see the beginning will affect how you see the end, or the lack there of.

heavenNew scientific discoveries show that the world started with an escalated fast moving big bang. And from there a first flash of fast moving particles quickly expanding to a movement of billions of years, the universe unfolded and we eventually were created.

Young earth creationists state that the world, even the universe, is actually 6,000 years old. They use odd math by adding up ages in the book of Genesis. Genesis 1 through 9 are not ancient-near eastern newspaper accounts of history. It is the unfolding of God’s story and sovereignty, His movement in the world. It could have taken millennia to create the world and universe or it could have taken days, but the same is true, the world was created by God.

Genesis is the story of how God created the world but more importantly how God’s people rebelled and God still pursued them to bring them back into relationship with Himself. And if that is how you see the beginning, that is how you will view the end.

If the end is just a flash, bang, boom and we all will continue going until the universe does something new, then you won’t see the end as fascinating and wonderful, just something that is on going.

But if you view it as a God who wants to be in relationship with His people, you will see how the world will be ending.

Or will it.

In fact, heaven is the final destination but it isn’t the end. It is just the beginning. Too many times when we think of heaven, we think of little fat babies playing harps. It ain’t like that at all. It’s not being in the clouds all day. It is different than that. A lot different.

kingdom-of-heaven-city-heavenly-city-mary-k-baxterIn the book of Revelation (notice no “s” at the end of it) the Apostle John describes what he sees. He sees the new Jerusalem descending from the clouds and a tree on the banks of the river of life. And he knows that the dwelling with God will be with His people forever. There will be no more pain, no more hurting, no more fighting, no more wars. All will be made whole. All.

It ain’t an end to it all, but a beginning. Too many times we see it as an end to things, that is is the finish line. But it isn’t. Just the starting line.

So, in the meantime, we look forward not to the final destination, but to the starting line of it all. The end is coming eventually, but the end will actually be the beginning.

Jesus says “I am coming soon.”

And as I look at the world around me, at strife, at wars, at pain, at hurt, at broken relationships, I say the same words as the Apostle John “Come, Lord Jesus.”

It ain’t the end, but the beginning.

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