As I write this I am being distracted by a particularly disconcerting website that has a countdown clock of the 5,125-year ‘Long Count’ Mayan calendar (it is amazing what you can find on the internet when a deadline approaches). As the seconds count down to the end of the world I am beginning to wonder if this is how I really want to spend my final moments on planet earth.
Still, if you are reading this I guess 21 December 2012 came and went without the predicted end. Maybe the Mayans could go and hang out with Harold Camping and the many others who have gotten their predicted-apocalyptic events wrong.
If I am honest, there is always something mildly amusing reading the stories of people who expect these predictions to come true. It’s funny and yet strangely provoking at the same time. The certainty with which they live dictates every aspect of their lives, from what they do with their money to what they do with their time.
I guess if you genuinely expect the world to end (I clearly didn’t – writing blogs is not what I intend to do with my final moments), then you live in a certain way.
The early Christians did. Living with the expectation of the imminent return of Jesus they devoted themselves to the things that really matter. The temptation is to say that they had fewer distractions than we do today, life was simpler and so whole-hearted devotion was easier then. But that’s a cop-out response. The early Christians lived with an intentionality of purpose and an urgency to spread the gospel.
My fear, as we start 2013, is that we have lost that sense of urgency, we have lost the art of living with expectation. Because living with expectation must result in activity and action. If it doesn’t, then I guess you need to question whether you actually believe what you say you do.
Now I don’t believe the world is going to end before you read this but I do believe that Jesus is returning, that the gospel really is good news, and Jesus is alive and kicking.
It’s at this point that my expectations need to change. I once heard Josh Harris say: “If your theology doesn’t shape you, then you haven’t understood it.”
My theology says that right now God saves, heals, restores broken relationships, brings hope and life to communities, answers prayers and much more.
So my expectation should be that I see these things happen, right here, right now. I guess if I am really honest, I all too often tend to drift towards pessimism rather than expectation. And this all too often leads to inactivity on my behalf. The result is that I am often surprised when God actually does move.
I need to remind myself of William Carey’s words: “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.”
If I genuinely live with the expectation that Jesus is alive, ruling and reigning then my actions, my activity and my prayer life need to reflect such expectations. I need to expect God to move and attempt some great things for him.
It is my plan that 2013 will be a year of expecting and attempting. The lesson of my internet browsing is if you really believe in something it affects everything: every attitude, every action, and every decision.