I am currently preaching through the Book of Revelation. It has been interesting to note how many people who hear the messages, or hear that I am preaching through Revelation, say they have never heard it preached on before.
This is somewhat weird to me. I can remember going through Revelation three different times in my church where I grew up. Undoubtedly it was more than that, I only remember three.
Studying the End Times used to be big business in the American Church. In recent years this has trailed off. Here are a few reasons why I think that is:
- It’s too confusing. People want practical sermons–7 ways to get out of debt; 10 ways to strengthen your marriage. No one has time for confusing, irrelevant future stuff.
- It’s too divisive. No one can agree on what it’s about. All it does is cause arguments. Better to avoid it and talk about things we all agree on.
- It’s too dorky. Unfortunately the Church has made End Times stuff way too cheesy. Revelation is the book we’re all embarrassed is in the Bible. Left Behind books and movies have trivialized it all.
- It’s too unpredictable. There have been way too many attempts to guess the date of the Lord’s return. He hasn’t returned. We feel and look stupid when we talk about this stuff. We don’t want to come across as some crazed fundamentalist holding picket signs.
- It’s too academic. In order to fully treat the Book of Revelation, you kind of have to know the Old Testament prophets, Psalms, the Gospels, the writings of Paul, the whole Bible really. That’s too hard and too academic. It requires too much thinking and study. Better not do it.
What’s fascinating to me is that, while the Church is avoiding taking End Times stuff seriously, the atheist/agnostic/humanist/non-Christian world seems to be taking over for us!
If you mention the world ending to a random person off the street, they probably won’t think about crazed religionists; they’ll think about some doomsday prepper who recently saw Bigfoot. They’ll think about Global Warming fanatics. They’ll think about environmentalist whackos and free-range cow defenders. Perhaps they’ll think about peace protesters thinking wars will end us.
All these secular groups have some sort of End Times scenario as a major piece of their propaganda. As the Church stops talking about The End, the world is filling in. Al Gore is the new Hal Lindsey.
I find this fascinating.
Perhaps one of the main reasons all groups talk about The End of the world is because it creates fear, and fear is a great tool to raise money.
But at its root it shows us that we all know The End is coming. Worldly groups think humanity can do things to stave it off. The Bible says we can’t. The Bible also says judgment follows. I suppose that’s the one relief the world can offer about their End Times charts: there’s no judgment in their scenarios.
People know the world will end. Will we try to save the earth, or will we attempt to get our souls saved? It depends on what you think happens after The End.