Is the Apocalypse Coming? Surviving the New Fear Factor
- 2006 3 Oct
“Something really big and bad is about to happen,” friends and neighbors whisper. “Is this the end of the world as written in Revelation?” a newscaster recently asked.
Some think Al-Qaeda is about to detonate a bomb in New York and prayer teams are imploring God to prevent nuclear attack. TV dramas, like 24 and Jericho (a new drama about life in a small Kansas town following the nuclear destruction of Denver), support this idea.
“Global warming.” “Energy crises.” “Apocalypse.” “Terrorists.” Fear, it seems, is in the air.
Not scary enough? Some statisticians tell us that 70 percent of our Christian young people will forsake their faith before college graduation. It is also reported that among high school students (our future voters and policy makers), only 4% are Christians.
The media has demonized fundamentalist Christians in such a way that the very label now implies a hate group. Young people are taught it’s okay to hate and censor us because of who we have been portrayed to be.
Even the federal court sanctions this attitude. Recently, Prison Fellowship Ministries’ InnerChange lost an Iowa lawsuit that requires them to stop a prisoner education program and repay $1.7 million because Judge Robert W. Pratt defined evangelical Christianity as unconstitutional.
Small wonder there is abundant fear. Is there a solution? Where do we turn when we hear of wars and rumors of wars?
It’s Not Like We Didn’t Know…
If you signed on to become a disciple of Jesus because He was going to make your life hunky-dory, someone sold you a bill of goods that Jesus didn’t promise to deliver.
“Watch that no one deceives you. Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. “You will be persecuted and put to death. You will be hated by all nations because of me. Many will turn away from the faith to betray and hate each other. False prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24: 4-14)
As you see, Jesus didn’t promise us a rose garden but eternal life. He promised that this world would be full of trouble, but that wasn’t the end of the world. He did, however, commission us to “keep watch” for the signs of His coming (Matthew 24:42).
Why keep watch? Simple: intervention and preparedness. (Matthew 24:36-51) When we see “signs,” there are steps to be taken.
What? Me Worry?
“What? Me Worry?” is the motto of Alfred E. Neuman, the intellectually incurious mascot of Mad Magazine. He doesn’t care what’s happening. Most of us do but feel as powerless as Alfred to do anything.
But feelings of powerlessness are a deception. The weakest Christian is stronger than the most powerful devil, but most are unaware of that. And most are unaware of how to exercise that power. Here's how:
- Don’t freak out. Pray. In addressing the end of the world, Jesus advised that we should pray, not faint (Luke 18). Then He gave the parable of the widow and the unjust judge. With no attorney, no prestige, no power, no money, she stood no chance of getting a verdict in her favor. But she didn’t give up. She kept asking. And won her case! We are to keep interceding for our families, leaders, cultural icons, etc. and expect to see God at work.
- Ask for mercy. Jesus followed the parable of the widow with another: the parable of the publican — a notorious sinner — and the Pharisee — a prominent religious teacher. When he prayed, the Pharisee reminded God how much better than everyone else he was. The publican simply asked for God’s mercy. Jesus declared that it was the publican’s prayer pleased God. And was answered.
When you hear of wars and “rumors of wars,” know that the end is not here. The rumors are our call to pray change into our world and to ask for God’s mercy.
Rebekah Montgomery is the editor of Right to the Heart of Women e-zine, a publisher at Jubilant Press, and the author of numerous books on spiritual growth. She can be contacted for comments or speaking engagements at rebekahmontgomery.com
Linda Evans Shepherd is the publisher of the Right to the Heart of Women Ezine, the President of Right to the Heart and a publisher at Jubilant Press, and the author of numerous books on spiritual growth. She can be contacted for comments or speaking engagements at LindaEvansShepherd.com