BY STEVE DUNN
“It’s okay, Mayans. We all make mistakes. It’s not the end of the world.” -someone on Facebook
Today is December 23rd. Two days after the world was supposed to end–at least that’s what some ancient Mayans tried to tell us. It’s ironic. Most of us would not have known of the world’s impending doom if someone hadn’t unearthed a prophecy that had long been forgotten. The ancient Mayans were; well, anicent and don’t have too many spokespersons left on this planet. In fact, the only reason most 21st century non-Mayans even knew of this prophecy is someone’s marketng scheme.Olin Yolotzin is spiritual master, who leads the Aztec ritual dance group Cuauatli, is quoted on December 21st as saying: “The world was never going to end, this was an invention of the mass media.” Somehow most of us knew that. Yolotzin’s take on the so-called explosive end of the world:. “It is going to be a good era. … We are going to be better.”
So days have passed and we’re still here. We’re still planted on an aging planet that is being warmed ever more seriously by things like greenhouse gases. We still live in societies that ignore God and pursue selfish aims making life on this planet at times dark and troubling.
A middle schooler I know named Hannah was engaged in a classroom discussion about this whole Mayan Calendar episode. During a discussion about the Mayan calendar and end of the world, Hannah spoke up said “I am a Christian and I believe the Bible and the Bible teaches that no one knows the time or day of the “end of things.” And that is exactly what the Bible says. We cannot know the time and need not add to our anxiety by obsessing about it.
Actually, I was never worried. Christians do not believe that the world will end in a cataclysmic event. God has told us through the Bible that instead of destroying the planet, that at the end of time as we understand it, He will simply make a new heaven and a new earth.
Don’t get me wrong. Christians believe in natural disasters and human tragedy. Quite often natural disasters which follow the intricate workings on nature itself are made more disastrous by the sinful and unwise way we humans treat Creation. And human tragedy is a direct outcome of mankind’s inherent sinful nature which quite often victimizes others.
As Christians, we are taught that we are to treat this planet with care. We are stewards of what God has created. We are to see that it is used wisely because this planet is the resource that God has given to sustain human life until He comes to make that New Earth. We are taught to work on helping people find healing and hope by being reconciled to the God Who has created them and desires to redeem them.
We believe that we sin when we treat this planet as something to be ravaged and abused because it is God’s gift to us. We do not worship Creation. We worship the Creator. And we believe that we prepare people for living at the end of all history by preparing them to meet God Himself. For we believe that there will not be a place in that New Heaven and New Earth for people who didn’t have a place for God in the Old Earth. The worst part of the human condition is that we make creation and creature man more important than the Creator, and we systematically push Him out of the picture and naively neglect to honor His purposes for the world and for us.
The “end of the world” is not a matter of disaster-proof shelters or religious ceremonies to invoke some unnamed help or comfort us as life as we know comes to an end. The end of the world, which will not come with a bang but as a surprise, is the reason why we call people to turn to God so that time will be something to celebrate, not fear.
(C) 2012 by Stephen L Dunn