After reading of some folks’ concerns about a sustainable human future on our planet, I am reminded of the words of God: “men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth;” Luke 21:26 Their primary concerns are poor environment, overpopulation, and unsustainable economy. Yet these pale in comparison to what very well may threaten us later – “and except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved” Mat. 24:22.
Ironically, Christians in the past have been troubled by wars and rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, and earthquakes. They predicted the end of the world while God plainly tells us just the opposite of these very things: “see that ye be not troubled: for all must come to pass but the end is not yet… all these are the beginnings of sorrows” (Mat. 24:6-7, Mk. 13:7-8). We’re good at being troubled at the things we are told not to be troubled about.
A better indication of the last days is that “this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Mat. 24:14 God also told Daniel of “the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased”.
The real peril of the end of the world deals more with the character
of people than the condition of the planet.
“This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come.” The next verse gives the reason for the peril: “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, truce-breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God…” Think about each item in the above list. What would the end result be in a culture filled with such things? Environmentally? Economically?
In a Christian culture where honesty, love, respect, hard work, and kindness is promoted and expected of people, it is easy to dream about the whole world cooperating toward a healthy, sustainable, peaceful, and prosperous future. But when the reality of human character is revealed, the real challenge can be seen. Why are peaceful, loving, healthy people burned, stabbed, shot, abused, and bombed on a regular basis, such as the recent attacks by radical Hindus in Orissa’s Kandhamal district? In Jos, Nigeria on November 28, 2008 more than 100 civilian Christians were killed and thousands more were left shot, cut, and beaten – not to mention property damage. An innocent farmer in Indonesia had his face split with a machete by Islamic extremists for telling people about Jesus. He is still sharing Christ with the primitive Wana tribe that sleeps in trees and trades wood for food. In America, Christianity has bred an amazing level of political freedom. Other countries are not as fortunate.
Christianity exposes and deals with the sin nature of man. Such reaction is to be expected. Those of us who envision a beautiful, sustainable world need to understand what we are up against. Satan hates people, and controls them to accomplish his work (John 8:44-47). When we talk about the last days, we are talking about a time in which it will look like no one will survive, and not because of population, but because of treachery. Cutting down your own population is not a good way to survive. Who knows – the amazing growth of the world’s population in the last 500 years might be just what is needed for humans to sustain their existence.
So last night I was impressed with what some folks said in the little country Church we attend. After the speaker poured out His heart in love for God and God’s people, we prayed and sang and shared together. Some of the testimonies went something like this: “When we were little, we had only one pair of shoes to wear during the cold months until we first heard the Whip-poor-will. We would have to go out to move the cows and our feet were cold, so we would run and stand where the cows had lain down. We were poor, and there were nine of us kids, and sometimes Mother didn’t know what we would have for dinner. But we never went hungry. The Lord took care of us, and we always had the love of our mother and dad. You know, I could live without electric, and I could live without running water, or the A.C., or television. I was raised that way. But I could never live without the Lord.” That sounds sustainable to me.