I was listening to an Adventist preacher this weekend who said that the Second Advent is not receiving the emphasis among Adventist preachers that it once did. His point was that our reason for being is not simply to “Spread the Love of Jesus,” but to specifically tell the world of the second Advent that is soon to take place.
Interestingly enough, it does seem that much Adventist preaching does seem to take on the characteristics of the fads and popular approaches current among evagelicals. Many are seeking to preach the message of “God is gonna hook you up” that is so popular right now. Some are preaching exactly what their congregations wish to hear rather than a prophetic voice that calls them to change. Some messages are only theraputic to be a salve or an elixir to help us make it through another week. And some are simply time wasted. But then there are those who engage in speculation about end time events. They purchase excitement at the expense of their credibility. These are the ones who forever find Sunday Laws on president’s desk or who predict every economic downturn is the final one.
But then, there are those who attempt to preach a relevant word in the present tense, but also attempt to help us look to the future. In some ways it is a difficult undertaking. It is not always easy to preach about the end time without degenerating into speculation about Jesuits and secret meetings. It is not always easy to preach a relevant word to contemporary society without degenerating into preaching an empty shell that assures a “breakthrough.”
Perhaps our end time preaching should be less about events and more about the mindset that will make it through. Perhaps, if we talked about the mindset then we will realize that that mindset not only has future implications, but it will help us through even the difficulties of today. Perhaps God’s work for us and in us in the present time is exactly what is needed to make it through our contemporary problems and our future problems.
And maybe just maybe our end time focus would move from the fear that is based solely in self-centeredness to an assurance that is based in God’s work for us which will most assuredly work “out” of us.
Over the last few weeks a theme has been coming up more and more, at least to me.Â That is the idea of Adventists having a vested interest in things getting worse.Â Therefore, they overemphasize “bad” things and underemphasize “good” things.Â For example, when we find out that the crime rate may have gone down in a particular region, we hear nothing of it, but when we find out that particular storms are on the rise, they find themselves in our sermons and writings.
Interestingly, the last economic crash that began last year had even official Adventist websites and the like predicting that this was the very end, we were told that this was the end of everything.Â Let alone the non-official sources that stated with certaintly that this crash was the begining of the very end of time.
And then when things blow over, we hear nothing from these prophets of doom.Â I can remember one woman who told me that before Y2K the government was soon going to shut down the borders between the states.Â We had to get out now!Â Then when such far fetched news turned out to be false, she said nothing, but she did have another prediction about the government that she would tell anyone who would listen.
This kind of thing makes us all have “end of the world” fatigue and just give up on the whole thing.Â Our ignorant rantings about what we know not and then our silence whenÂ our illogical and incorrect predictions turn out to be false has created a culture where we either don’t care about the end or we are addicted to the charge of the next big thing.
What is of great interest to me, is how these predictions and prophets often lose track of the Big Picture.Â We lose track of the Great Controversy and God’s quest to right all wrongs when we focus on these supposed end time events.Â Â Many lose sight of who predicted what when we bounce from supposed end time events to other ones.Â We sometimes end up quoting those who hate while we set aside the books that we say we believe.Â To put it more bluntly, some of us end up reading anti-semetic sources who preach about a global economic plan by certain ethnic groups rather than the writings that have been placed in our hands, namely the Bible and the gift of Ellen White.
Perhaps it is time to get the big picture back.Â Certainly there are indications that we are nearing the end, but every prediction by some crackpot is not such an indication.Â Maybe if we kept the Big Picture we would be less likely to jump from false prediction to false prediction until we end up in an agnostic haze of wondering if the end really will come.