The Future Is Here, And It’s The Beginning Of Sorrows
Selfishness is an absolutely terrible organizing principle upon which to base any system. The problem with selfishness as the basis for a system is that the resulting system collapses in on itself; it is the inescapable nature of selfishness that drives all members of a system to be in competition with each other and to grow ever more aggressive, ever more lethal, ever more ruthless so that the system cannibalizes itself.
The bottom line is that you don’t want to be a part of any system that is based on selfishness. And yet, tragically, we are. When we read the account of God’s creation of the world (and when we read the account of the world as it will be restored) we can understand that it was created in complete harmony with His character. That is to say, nothing hurt or destroyed. Nothing killed anything else (thus meaning that animals were profoundly different on the biological and behavioral levels). Basically, nothing took as the basis of its existence. Instead, and consistent with the character of God, everything gave as the basis of its existence.
If you strain to understand such a system, that is normal; no such system is in evidence around us, and so the concept is foreign. If you’d like to probe the concept a bit more deeply, I recommend a series of short videos I made a couple years ago with ARtv. You can find the first in the series here on Vimeo. Or, if you have Amazon Prime, you can watch the whole series of shorts here, conveniently stitched together into one video.
So back to the tragic reality that we are part of a selfishness based system. The earth, created with love as its organizing principle, now operates with selfishness as its organizing principle. You can see it operate in the natural world and you can see it operate in human society. How God’s world could be changed (against his will) and what that says about God, the world, and the people who live on it is something I try and cover in the above video series and will cover more fully in a forthcoming book. But back to my point: our physical and societal world is based on a system that collapses in on itself, and it does so in a way that is slow at first, but accelerates dramatically as the end-game is reached. And here is the thing: we are in the end-game.
Jesus Himself described what the world would be like in the early end-game stage. Or, as He put it, “the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:8). In a riveting discourse to His disciples, Jesus described in Matthew 24 (and Luke 21 and Mark 13) a world that was beset by epic famine, drought, disease and conflict. He described a world where both natural and human societal systems were in collapse, and panic was setting in as mankind realized the extent of the rapidly accelerating crisis (Luke 21:26).
As we look at the accelerating decline of earth’s natural systems, we know what to expect: epic drought, epic flooding, epic heat waves and cold waves, forced human migration (and desperate migrants turned back by nations whose hearts have gone cold – Matthew 24:12), famine, disease, and epic conflict between people groups and between nations. We are seeing, in real time, the start of all of this. A simple reading of the news juxtaposed with climate science and juxtaposed with the Bible allows us to triangulate our position in the fulfillment of prophecy.
Take, for instance, this fascinating article in The Atlantic that traces the profound impacts of an increase in toxic algae in oceans all around the world. It is one more data point in the path to dead or near-dead oceans that result in massive red algae growth (see also Revelation 16:3).
Or take this article in the Guardian that talks about yet another landmark study that concludes the seas are rising faster and higher than previously calculated, this time with the conclusion that some 300 million coastal dwellers will be forced to migrate in the very near future (including millions in Bangladesh and elsewhere that have absolutely nowhere to go).
Or take this article in the Guardian (an excellent resource) that talks about California’s epic natural disasters, and how the state is not so much different from the rest of the world, just slightly ahead of it. The article asks whether or not California is now too dangerous to live in. What will we do when the whole of the U.S. or the whole of the world is too dangerous to live in? This is essentially what Christ described to His disciples.
But here is the thing: In the same discussion with His disciples, Christ had specific counsel for us: Don’t be troubled (afraid), because all that is happening must happen (Matthew 24:6). With the fullness of the Bible as our resource, we now know why He said these things must happen: they are the natural consequence of Satan’s system of selfishness, and the only way to show the entire universe that Satan’s system is a complete fraud and catastrophe is to let it play out so that his lies and deceptions are plain for all to see. While the collapse of Satan’s system is playing out, those humans who want to reject Satan and accept Christ as their Saviour will be able to join Jesus in the earth made new – a stunningly beautiful creation that has love as its organizing principle, where nothing hurts or destroys, and where there is no suffering, no pain, no sickness and no death.
In the meantime, we’re in the endgame, brothers and sisters, and we have work to do – it is our job to warn a distracted world a proclaim Christ as Lord and Savior to all who will listen.