Thought for the Month (February 2013)

So the world did not end on the 21st December last! You did not really think it would; did you?! Well, hundreds of thousands of people across the globe truly believed that the world was going to end on that date. So many Americans were panicking in the belief that the Apocalypse would come at mid-day on 21st December 2012, at the end of the ancient ‘long count’ Mayan Calendar cycle, that the North American Space Agency, NASA, had to issue a Video across America entitled ‘The world will not end tomorrow’: and on the other side of the world, the Chinese police arrested hundreds of persons for ‘disseminating rumours likely to cause trouble’. In fact, about the only people who were not at all bothered about the likelihood of the approaching end of the world were students of ancient Mayan culture who dismissed the whole matter as complete rubbish, saying, “the event will be about as destructive as when we throw away one year’s calendar and hang up the next”.

So there was no planet Nibaru hiding behind the sun, no earth shattering volcanic eruptions, no world-wide earthquakes and no tidal waves; just a lot of gullible people with egg on their faces. But this leaves us with the question of why so many people find it so easy to believe ‘end-of-the world’ rumours. Tell them that ‘Jesus is the way, the truth and the life’ and most people will ignore you. Tell them that ‘the world will end tomorrow,’ and they are all ears! Are we just ‘projecting the anxieties of our modern way of life on a past ancient civilisation’ or is there more to it than that?

True the world will come to an end one day. Sooner or later, within the next 500 million years, our sun will expand over the orbits of Mercury and Venus and give the Earth a good roasting before it shrinks down to a cold extinct cinder of star. And sooner or later, within the next seventy years, all of us are going to die! So our personal end of the world will come! Now that is not a very cheerful message to bring to you on a grey February day!

If you are an unbeliever, then of course you will be concerned at the thought that one day, your time on Earth will come to an end. If all you have in your life-view is this material world then it is very likely you will be easy prey to any rumour concerning the end of it. But for a Christian believer this is not so. We believe in Jesus, and we know God’s promise that everyone who believes in Jesus will be saved to Eternal Life. As Christians we can be sure that our earthly death in this world is not the end of everything, but just the beginning of a new and more blessed walk with God in all eternity.

Now that really is a cheerful message to bring to you on a grey February day! But it is a hard message to take in, and most of us spend the whole of our Christian life trying to come to terms with it. That is why the Church calendar gives us the season of Lent, a period of time to consider deeply the amazing salvation offered to us by God in Jesus, before we come to celebrate it each year at Easter.

May you have a reflective and useful time this Lent as we look forward again to the coming festival of Easter.

Bob Webb

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church