Wisdom About the Apocalypse

The Medina County Gazette

Published in Medina, Ohio

 

Listen up and stop worrying about the second coming

 

By KATHRYN POPIO

Special to The Gazette

January 23, 1999

This year brings the end of a millennium, when we'll experience the granddaddy of years for guesstimates about the future. 1999 will also usher in even more predictions about the second coming of Christ and end of the world stories.

Of course, Christians do envision the second coming of Christ. But should we sit around worrying when it will be?

I personally find each day challenging enough, without worrying when Jesus will return. When I ponder it, I also embrace the verse 1Peter 5:7, "Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you."

Nevertheless we will, as hundreds of other generations have, encounter individuals who would like us to believe they know both the events of the new year and when the second coming will be. As this happens, I will remember that these predictions come from mere humans.

In "The Business of Heaven" by C.S. Lewis, he reminds us that even the apostles were expecting the second coming. Lewis wrote, "And, worse still, they had a reason, and one you will find very embarrassing. Their master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, 'This generation shall not pass till all these things be done. ' And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else."

So, what should we think about that? For one thing, Jesus spoke those words when he was living as a human being. He was living with the limitations of being human, yes, but he prayed for help, for guidance, before doing anything.

I still dash out too much on my own and remember to pray later. I'm learning to listen during prayer. Not that there still aren't times when I think I have been given a word and get enthused and leave the prayer with the Holy Spirit probably still talking to me.

But Jesus listened and received help and guidance. Yet, the apostle Mark recorded instances when Jesus could not do miracles he wanted to do because of too much negative flow in the area. Even that highlighted Jesus' humanness and God's power. Still another example of his having been human is that immediately after his birth, there were people trying to kill him. Remember his parents' flight into Egypt? At that time, his parents listened.

So what about Jesus' statement? Lewis said, "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." Lewis points out here "unless the reporter were perfectly honest he would never have recorded the confession of ignorance at all; he could have had no motive for doing so except a desire to tell the whole truth.

And unless the copyists were equally honest they would never have preserved the (apparently) mistaken prediction about 'this generation' after the passage of time had shown the (apparent) mistake."

"Many people find it hard to believe in this event," said Lewis, "without trying to guess the date, or even without accepting as a certainty the date that any quack or hysteric offers them." So, should believers worry about it, when even many who were initially unbelievers are hypothesizing because of research surfacing regarding codes in the Bible?

As an answer to worry, Lewis wrote, "His (Jesus') teaching on the subject quite clearly consisted of three propositions: 

That he will certainly return; That we cannot possibly find out when; That therefore we must always be ready for him."

So I'm not going to worry. Worry only hinders listening.

C.S. Lewis suggests preparation, not worry

 

By KATHRYN POPIO

Special to The Gazette

January 30, 1999

My column last week concerned worry over the approach of the new millennium, and on its heels, anxieties at predictions of the second coming of Christ. I used research from C. S. Lewis' book, "The Business of Heaven," because, as Walter Hooper of Oxford (who wrote the preface) put it: " ... Lewis is one of the most realistic Christians we are ever likely to meet. He never makes a mountain of a mole hill. But he never pretends that a real mole hill isn't there."

To reiterate: Lewis pointed out that "even the apostles were expecting the second coming. And worse still, they had a reason, and one you will find very embarrassing. Their master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, 'This generation shall not pass till all these things be done. ' And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else," said Lewis.

So what about Jesus' statement? Lewis moved on to highlight another comment Jesus made, which is recorded "within another fourteen words of that statement: 'But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. ' "

Lewis marveled at the honesty of the recorders of Jesus' statements when he said, "Unless the reporter were perfectly honest he would never have recorded the confession of ignorance at all; he could have had no motive for doing so except a desire to tell the whole truth. And unless the copyists were equally honest they would never have preserved the (apparently) mistaken prediction about 'this generation' after the passage of time had shown the (apparent) mistake."

We are told that while Jesus was on earth, with us, he took on all dimensions and limitations that being a human being entails.  Anyone who examines Jesus realizes the outrageous gift he brought to us in living here to tackle life, just as we do. If anyone doubts it, read about how Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before his crucifixion.

So as Jesus corrected his own view by professing, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man ... " we appreciate a tremendous humility and concern for truth that he manifested once again, for everyone who would hear or ultimately know about what he said.

The purpose of my column was to give something to think about as we begin to hear and read the multitude of predictions that will abound in 1999, mainly because we are living during the end of a millennium. One of the things that Christians are told to do is test everything. Do not accept anything you hear or read especially predictions about the future from pseudo authorities. And think twice about putting any stock in articles that don't reveal who wrote them. Any substantial source of writing will diligently provide the name of the author, so you can judge its credibility.

Lewis suggested "we must always be ready" for Christ's return. But worry should not prevail, for that is a negative emotion that only serves to hinder us.

Copyright 1999 The Medina Gazette

(Articles made available here since they are  no longer available on the internet site.)

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