Where’s Your Homeboy Now?
In St. Peter the Rock’s 2nd epistle and chapter 3, the edgy disciple-prophet pens a verse in the middle of a lengthy narrative on the so-called “negligible” signs of Christ’s coming, from scoffers who prognosticate that the jig is up on the Christians once and for all, for the “so-called” Messiah has no clothes. In a nutshell, it’s time to stop the babbling and go home. In essence they say that first of all, God doesn’t judge anyone (though ironically they don’t believe He exists), and secondly, that if we are still taking a can of whoopass through life down here and waiting around for a trumpet from the sky to come at any minute, we are indeed the gullible and thus deplorable Christians the “educated” masses think we are.
In fact, the verse says exactly what they are still saying some 2000 year later:
They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” (2 Peter 3:4 ESV)
In other words, science now “knows” the better order of things, and that what goes in a test tube always then comes out of it in predictable fashion, and the “sign” theory is outdated, along with the good book and its people; and so it’s now time to shut the whole thing down. Even though of course, both the might of the Romans and the “fine-tooth comb” of the religious establishment were unable to do so by simply producing a very dead body about 20 years earlier.
Yet Peter then first of all reminds them that God’s judgment is not only a surety at some point off in the distant future, but that it’s track record is also certain for those who want to take a trip down memory lane: perhaps starting with, I don’t know…the flood maybe? He then builds a case by saying that just as that was evident when the time came, it will be undeniable again, and he uses that to build a case for the reason for the apparent stall out.
Is God Being Slack Concerning the Promise?
In essence, Peter says that God is giving all of us, including the scoffers, time to perhaps take a double take and relook at this whole Christian thing with new eyes again. And he suggests that by turning our glance away from merely the truth of the particulars, that instead; as Jordan Peterson has at least partially reminded us, we should spend more time in the realm of the universals. His admonition in turn, though still conceding to us the tangible truth of real matter and all its boasts, is to equally compel us towards the spiritual truth that hangs in the balance in the grasp of the whole truth, and nothing but the truth–so help us God. A realm of truth, even with its now “multi-millennia” of signs for inquiring minds wanting to know, that the culture writ large has long thrown out with the baby, and the bathwater.
Dooms Day Preppers
I can remember like it was yesterday back in the 70’s, when the runaway best seller The Late Great Planet Earth was released. At that time, along with the overabundance of cheesy movies low budget filmmakers produced in its aftermath, churches (including mine) were sure we were in the cross hairs of the end of days, and that the eschaton of God would be imminent. Fast forward to 2019, and like me, I’m sure most who call themselves by the name of Christ now feel that if Jesus isn’t now on His way in short order, we secretly wonder if Peter’s nemeses were on to something. Perhaps He is not coming like we thought, or like the Thessalonians, maybe we fell asleep and somehow missed the whole shebang.
Jesus talked about some signs too in Matthew 24. Things about false messiahs; wars and rumors of wars; nation against nation; famines; pestilences and earthquakes. He would then add that this was only “the beginning of sorrows”. He would go on further to say that all of us who called ourselves by His name would be hated to be sure, something about the “abomination of desolation” (with varying interpretations of what this was or would be), and the gospel of good news being taken to all the nations (of which Paul made boast of being completed even in his own time).
He also talked about the parable of “the fig tree” (which most believe referred to Israel becoming a nation in 1948). Many would also talk about “this generation not passing away” until it was fulfilled to mean, as many dooms-day prophets heralded, that sometime around 1988 was to be the final curtain call. He then went on to give many other signs–yet assured us that not even He knew the day or the hour. Instead he uttered that this particular occurrence was strictly in His Father’s timetable, but assured us that alertness, attention to holiness and preparedness for the hour should be the state of the church at all times. And so still we wait, while the volume of the scoffers has now reached colossal proportions in every market square and computer screen.
Is the Enemy Us?
And yet I wonder. Smack dab in the middle of Jesus’ signs for us to pay attention to, he mentions something that I feel bears ponderance now more than ever. He says that during these times, “that because lawlessness increased, the love of many will grow cold”. And the apostle Paul seemed to be echoing Jesus sentiment again, when in 2 Thessalonians, he speaks about “the great falling away”, which almost every Tom, Dick and Harry soothsayer agrees refers to the state of the church at that time as becoming corrupt, irrelevant and chameleon-like in perfectly blending in with the scoffers themselves. And of course, that is where I begin to have a sort of out of body experience that sure as Hell feels like the real thing from where I’m sitting.
For instance, does anyone still called by the name of Christ doubt that lawlessness has increased calamitously in our now “global village”, and even in our own lives–thus causing our love for Christ to, I don’t know…grow cold maybe? And is that not also what John the Revelator is alluding to when he reminds the church at Ephesus that they had “lost their first love” before he lays out the apocalyptic time clock?
And in hobbling along this narrow and sometimes lonely path, searching every so anxiously for the Jesus missing in America and in my own life, perhaps the signs we should be looking for have been building a barricade from our eyes in our own back yard for some time now. And all the while, the myriad of money changers we gave the new keys to have now reentered our various temples, as we shuffle in week after week for the show that must now begin. But perhaps, just maybe; the signs are indeed everywhere now, except we have become the church-going, therapeutic, moralistic and deist scoffers, who no longer live like they are leaving at all.