A woman asked me recently what my thoughts are on the End Times. I knew she was referring to the Christian belief based on the book of Revelations that the world will end and before it does there were will be a recognizable series of catastrophes. I told her that with the way we have treated the earth there will likely come a time when it can no longer sustain human beings. But not for a while, I added, and I am not going to worry about it.
I was able to fill her in on what scholars have said about prophecies of doom in the Bible, that these were actually grounded in specific moments in ancient history when the Israelites were dealing with evil monarchs an foreign invaders. I told her that I had learned in my studies that the book of Revelations was actually an underground secretly coded text used by an oppressed people. If found with it, they would not be arrested because their oppressors would not understand it.
I can appreciate why people prone to believe these types of fear-mongering scriptural interpretations during this crisis right now. But I think this flies in the face of Jesus’ message. This week we celebrate Jesus’ death and resurrection. The most important part of the story is not that he died a physical death. This we will all experience and the coronovirus is here to remind us all of that fact. The miracle was that he rose, death did not conquer him. I am not sure what that means to others, but to me it means that even in the face of death, he never stopped doing what the Father sent him to earth to do…to love. On the cross, he forgave his enemies. There was room yet in his heart for more love. The Romans and his religious enemies may have been able to destroy the flesh and bone, the composite of the man Jesus, but they were unable to destroy the Christ, that of God that dwelt in him throughout his time of incarnation.
Jesus told his disciples that where he goes, they would also go. That place, according to my theology, is the Kingdom of God which is here among us. You see it even in the midst of this awful scourge: in the courage of our health care workers, in the joy our artists bring to us in our isolation, in the ways people reach out to see that their neighbors are fed, in the love teachers are showing toward their students, in the unity expressed collectively by people thanking the many helpers among us.
I won’t concern myself about this idea of the End Times. My body will have an end time sooner or later. I never needed the Bible to tell me of this. But I believe in the redeeming message that, just like Jesus, the Creator asks only one thing of me to do while I wait for that end to come…that one thing is to love.