One of the first things people seem to want to ask Christians about is what they believe may happen in the near future. Frankly, I'm not sure we know any more than does anyone else. It's not quite so important to fully understand in advance what God is going to do as it is to realize after the fact that He is always faithful in the fulfillment of His prophecies. But, prophecy was such a hot button issue for those of us who were exposed to the Armstrong problem, because "the end" was used first as a marketing hook to get us or our parents involved, and later as a fearsome cat of nine tails on members once they were inside, always whipping them into shape. Most of us, today, are tired of hearing about it in any form, because of the ways in which it was used to manipulate and exploit us. Oddly, I don't recall the spectre of the end times being raised by mainstream Christianity until the so-called "Jesus movement" of the 1970s. Yet, who hasn't heard of the "Left Behind" series these days? It would appear that "the end" has permanently entered the popular lexicon, and not only from Christian sources.
Politicians have jumped on this bandwagon, and although they are not quoting Bible verses, they are quoting statistics related to the accelerated rate of melting of the glaciers around the world, the accumulation of CO2 and destruction of the ozone layer, the radical changes occurring in the oceans, the destruction of the world's rain forests, and the near extinction of numerous species of animals. While these are all problems which may respond to scientifically oriented solutions, it is unlikely that man would be able to effectively remedy other problems, such as the anticipated reversal of the earth's magnetic polarity.
The news media also seems to want to weigh in on all of this, selling newspapers and boosting ratings as they go by fanning the flames of avian flu, "mad cow" disease, Ebola, the golden algae threat, the resistance to antibiotics of strains of diseases once thought eradicated, the growth of the atomic club, and other issues. Clearly, we have a growing number of existential threats, and everybody seems to want to audition for the role of Chicken Little.
Some or all of these problems or challenges will end up needing to be dealt with, while others will simply fade into insignificance, dying a quiet and natural death, becoming non-issues. In the intervening time, we can expect people to utilize these issues to mold opinion to their own agendas, whether such agendas be scientific, religious, political, or humanitarian.
I am not the type of Christian who claims to have all the answers, or to use information to manipulate people. I did not appreciate being kept on edge about many of these things, in a perpetual state of limbo by WCG, because this kept me from enjoying the peace, tranquility, and many blessings that Christian living is supposed to bring to us on a daily basis in the here and now. Of course, it could be argued very persuasively that we never were Christians, as WCG members, but it is not until we begin to experience some of the good and wholesome things which were obviously missing from WCG culture that we can fully appreciate their value. I don't believe that God intended for us to be continuously whipped into a state of anxiety over what we see around us. I believe that He wants us to trust Him and not focus on "the wind" (remember Peter's attempt to walk on water?). Conversely to WCG teaching, I also believe that God wants us to get involved in helping ALL people (not just members), and helping to minimize whatever societal problems we can. Christians, right in there, at ground zero, helping others, and helping them by example to make sense of it all! Isn't that what "let your light shine" is all about?
There are some general theories floating about, some of which may or may not have a bearing on our future. Though the ACOGs have largely missed this one, because they believe that the Roman Catholic Church is the "Great Whore" of Babylon, one could almost conceptualize a revival of the Roman Empire nations, doing the many things they say it will do, if another "Great Whore", (Islam) were to take root and become the dominating political force there. Jihad co-opting all of the might of Europe would not be a pretty sight. I never could see the Catholics attacking us, but I can most definitely see radical Muslims doing so.
There is also the theory concerning the prophetic sprouting of the tender branch, supposedly representing the rebirth of the nation of Israel. Now, the presence of Israel is actually required for the end time prophecies in Revelation to take place. If in fact this theoretic interpretation has validity, it would be easy to draw the conclusion that the time period is linked to the "baby Boomer" generation, since Israel was reborn as a nation in 1948. So, for all of the younger people here, the baby boomers should nearly all be gone in about twenty years, placing a bit of a timeline on this theory. You'll know a bit more by then........or not.
The Christian community in which I participate is aware of possible end time scenarios, but is not hung up on them. We're more concerned with our daily Adventure with Father God, and the blessings and education we are experiencing. Building a "kingdom" skill set. In the past several years, I've participated in several high profile events where the focus has been prayer for a spiritual awakening, a healing and revival in our nation, and around the world, returning our nation to the largely Christian principles and practices on which it was founded. We believe that the current economic crisis has caused many people to turn to God, and frankly, considering the volatility of past decades, that in and of itself is counter intuitive. It is amazing that we are not experiencing massive civil unrest in response to the hardships people are experiencing. But, in fact, many of our core crime statistics are actually trending downwards.
We may be in the end times, or we may not. So, to me, the only way to live life is to do it in as ethical and loving way as possible. Frankly, that's good advice in any case. Be on the side of good, part of the solution rather than part of the problem. Think of each act in terms of its implications for those around us, be they individuals, animals, or other nations, or our planet.
I don't believe that we have any stupid people on these blogs and forums. Opinionated, yes. Stupid, no. Back when I was a non-believer, in a discussion about the end, I said something which I feel still makes good sense, and bears repeating: If the events outlined in the book of Revelation suddenly begin unfolding in an unmistakable or undeniable way, exactly as they are written, I believe that all of us, be we believer or nonbeliever, will at that point know exactly what is happening, and what to do.