The Christianity of Two Minds

American Christianity, if not all of Christianity, is divided today. On the one hand there are those who would look to the teachings of Jesus and say that Christianity is about loving our brothers. On the other hand there are those who think that figuring out what’s going to happen in the soon coming apocalypse is far more important. The first group smirks, at best, when there is mention of the apocalypse, hoping for the subject to fade a bit so that they can discuss the real work that needs doing in the world. The second group understands where the first is coming from, but is obsessed. There is some kind of judgement coming, they are certain, and they want to gain something by knowing the order of things before they happen.

You know what’s funny? They are both right. The only thing is that God is fond of hyperbole. He uses it often in reference to the end. He will refer to cataclysmic occurrences when He is talking about a matter of the spirit. He will build up daring equivalencies, and then work the analogies involved to make a point. Often these points are prophetic, speaking of either a whole different thing to happen in some distant time, or in some more complete re-cycling through another go at the same story, greatly enhanced for the view given it by its happening in another time, take the idea of tolerance today vs two thousand years ago for instance.

It’s easy to look at the apocalyptic God and not see the peacemaker. It’s easy to look that way and see fire and brimstone. It’s easy to say that you’ve figured out the story and are ready to stand with God as judge of the world, by virtue of the fact that you also know what is going to happen as it happens.

Did Jesus go away so that He could come back like that? Isn’t it far more likely that basing a relationship with Christ upon the End Times is about the spiritual equivalent of those who followed after Jesus only because he fed them and not because of the words he said? You see, the End Times are titillating. The mystery there is enough to make you feel spiritually full because you can always see the end game. Maybe, though, you don’t need to see the end game? Jesus said that eternal life was knowing God and Him whom He has sent. Knowing God lies in thinking like Him, in becoming like Him and therefore bearing the fruit of God-likeness. The true presence of God is much more immediate than the end game. He doesn’t need the events of the End Times to tell you how much He loves you. He wants you close enough to Him to feel compelled to act as you see and hear. You see, it does have to do with loving your brother.

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