Funny thing about Facebook: you connect with people you haven't seen in years, and you get the occassional out-of-the-blue question.
Happened to me this week. Friend from High School, whom I haven't seen or heard from since 1985, sent me this question (keep in mind I know nothing of his background or religious involvement, or lack thereof):
I hope you don't think this is a crazy question .... but, since you are a bible scholar, what is your take on what is going on in the world? I know we haven't talked in over twenty plus years, and if you do not feel comfortable answering this question, I understand
So I answered...and here it is.
Hey. Well, first off, wouldn't really consider myself a scholar at anything. Just so you know where I'm coming from...and not coming from, too!
I'm not a "these are signs of the end times" kind of guy. OK, so if the Cubs were to get to and win the World Series, I might start looking for the heavens to split open. I'm sure there are those out there who are talking gloom & doom, etc. Not just because of the crappy economy or the never ending flood of bad news that seems to be all we hear.
Though I don't go down that road much, as a Christian I do remind myself often that we have to always be prepared for whatever might come. I vividly remember watching the towers fall back in '01, and my heart sank for lots of reasons. Lots of the same questions that many of us had flooded my mind, but I couldn't help but think about the specific people in those buildings who just went to work that day like they had hundreds of days before, no inkling that it would be their last.
I heard a preacher from LA talk about that day, and how he got home late that night after dealing with so many people and so much emotion. His wife told him he needed to talk to his own children and help them too. So instead of just telling them that everything would be fine, not to worry, he told them this: "We have little control over how we die or how things will end. The only thing we have control over is how we live our lives." Well, that stuck with me a good bit. I suppose because there is so much truth in it. We only have control of how we live our lives, and no say in how or when it ends. So as a Christian, what does that mean for me? I just try to live in a way that I suspect Christ would (it's not that easy...if it were, more Christians would do it!).
The Bible does talk about worry, and in a nutshell it simply says 'don't do it...it's not good for you.' Funny, many think the Bible is just a bunch of rules and they want nothing to do with that sort of life system. But God lays those sorts of things out because he knows us pretty well (he created us, after all) and knows what's in our best interest. Example: divorce. Yes, it does happen, and the Bible has some things to say about it. God says that he hates it (pretty strong words). Now, is that a rule designed to screw up our lives? Or is it God saying He hates it because He knows how much hurt, anger, bitterness, etc. that can come from it, not to mention the carnage of our children that get stuck in the middle and have all sorts of baggage to deal with, etc....(Writing this having no idea if you've gone through that...no offense or preaching, just an illustration). I have lots of friends who have been through it, its always messy, and no one wins. I see why God hates it...
Anyway, there are certainly a lot of things going on in the world that I can't explain. But my absolute conviction is that we've created most of the mess, and with God's help we can fix some things. But my even bigger conviction is that God hasn't abandoned His throne...he's still on it. He's bigger than bailouts, Israeli & Palastenian skirmishes, presidents we may or may not like, tyrant dictators, recessions & mortgage crisis', and Oprah :) And he cares enough to hear me out when I talk to him, too. (I can't get anywhere near Oprah....)
Scripture does say that if God's people will humble themselves and pray, God will heal their land. My hope is that God's people will do their part...my conviction is that God can do his. Don't know if that makes any sense or answers the question, but it just sort of all came out.
Lemme know what you think.