In times like these, it’s easy for us to fear that things will only get worse…
Originally posted on Elizabeth Chapin ~ ChapinChick:
“Save some water for the fishies!” I picked up that expression from my husband who yells it at our girls when he get’s worried that they are about to take a 30 minute shower. I called out my co-worker with that expression when he left the water running in the sink at work for what seemed like an inordinate amount of time. “It’s all gonna burn anyway!” He replied with a smirk. I couldn’t tell if he was joking or not, but that’s not the first time I had heard such sentiments. As a young adult in church, images of the end of the world were not uncommon. From the end-times movie series “A Thief in the Night” of the late 70s to the more recent “Left Behind” series, vivid images of this world going to hell in a handbasket became popular in the late 20th century. While these apocalyptic science-fiction stories are based on a few passages from the Bible, are they merely fiction? Is it really “all gonna burn”? If it’s “all gonna burn” anyway, do we have any responsibility for creation care? And why are we so quick to hold onto the fire and brimstone metaphors anyway?
As we continue in this Advent season, a season of hope, we may be tempted to look around us and lose hope. Surely, there are wars and rumours of wars, famines and earthquakes, the end must be coming soon. Jesus must be ready to return any day now, so we must focus on saving as many souls as possible for an eternal future in heaven with God. “We don’t have time to worry about the environment,” we say. “Earthquakes and hurricanes are signs of the earth groaning for Jesus to return and a judgement on those who are evil and wicked in God’s sight,” we proclaim on our twitter feeds, facebook statuses and personal blogs.
Apocalyptic Metaphors and A Heaven/Earth Dualism
When we think about the end, and whether we admit it or not, most of us do think about the end, how do we imagine the new creation? What images come to mind? Do we envision, like some who have gone before, a catastrophic destruction of planet earth while we wait somewhere as disembodied souls for the creation of the new heavens and the new earth? When we read the passages in the Bible that talk about fire, and judgement, do we eagerly anticipate such destruction – hoping those wicked evildoers will finally get their just rewards? Do we imagine God is like the most amazing player in Call of Duty able to get to the highest level possible and defeat all the Nazi Zombies and save the world? Anne Lamott quotes her priest friend as saying, “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” Is it the Biblical text that is fueling our penchant for fire and brimstone metaphors for the end of the world or is it our own malformed understanding of justice?
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