in where the wild things are, max is sitting in school as his teacher talks about how eventually the sun will die and the solar system will be destroyed--whether by global warming or by war. you can see the optimism just drain out of max's face as his teacher preaches this gloom and doom to his students.
that's how i feel about end times preaching.
when i see adverts for world-ending movies or i hear preachers talk about end-times prophecy, it makes me feel like max probably did. it causes despair and hopelessness to rise up within me. it sucks faith and hope, wonder and awe out, leaving me clinging to a small, now deemed "naive" faith. i'm left crippled in the corner and unwilling to move. fear in place of faith. is this really what God wants?
i would guess that every generation has thought they were living at the end of time. surely, during the black plague, people thought it was the end of the world. people freaked out around y2k. now people are talking about 2012 because of the mayans. but the fact of the matter is that none of us know when the end is coming, because it will come like a thief in the night. it will come without warning.
i think end times preaching puts fear in the hearts of believers. i think it changes "loving people" to "saving people". i think it pridefully assumes that we know when the end is, when God is coming back, and pridefully claims we know what that will look like. i think it is terribly pessimistic -- and yet we, as Christians, put our hope in the God of the universe -- a God of love, of mercy and of peace-- and we're not being optimistic?
a healthy sense of urgency is needed in the church, needed in believers. but there has to be another way to instill that urgency without using fear.
p.s. if you haven't seen the movie yet, go. it's wonderful.