Where I work, we do sell the new Harry Potter book. (Readers of my blog know that I’m an avid fan of the series.) While watching today, I saw a child pick up a book, turn to the end, read it some, and then make some remark. I was stunned. Why would someone pick up the book and just read the end?
I can think of some ways I apply this to the faith as well. My first thought is with the atheists I meet who complain about the Problem of Evil. The complaint is always that there is no good reason why X would be allowed to happen. (If they see a good reason, it’s not really a problem any more.)
Yet we are not the authors of the story and we have no right to know how the story ends. I believe that would cheat us out of so much of life. I think of the question where asked if you could see your future, would you really want to? It’s tempting, yes, but would you really want to? Could it be you would live your life differently simply because you want to reach that “future?” (Yes. We could get into some interesting questions on time-travel theory here, but I think the point still stands.)
Imagine going to see a movie with a friend and each time during the movie your friend who has seen it says “Now right here, this guy…..” and “You need to watch this character” and “This character falls in love with that one” or “This one dies.” Honestly, would you want to go see a movie with such a person again? I assure you that our author is not that type either.
In essence, we are cheating if we read the end first. We are missing out on the joy of getting there. It would make no sense to go to a bookstore and buy any fictional work and just read the last few pages to see how it ends and then assume you understand the story. Even if you know what will happen to some characters somehow, getting there is a different story.
Now I can apply this to Christians. Too many Christians I fear spend way too much time on eschatology. (Study of the end times.) Now I do believe we should have some knowledge of this area. I have my stance in eschatology and I can defend it, but I am not dogmatic about it. I will gladly fellowship with people of a different view so long as it’s orthodox.
We cheat ourselves though if we spend our lives only studying the book of Revelation. We should study it and other books on the end times. However, if we study only them, we miss the real point. The real point is not knowing when it will end. The real point is knowing who is in charge in the end. When we study Revelation, for instance, we should keep the first words of the book in mind. “The Revelation of Jesus Christ.” If we study the book and come out with theories on eschatology, but we have no new truth about Jesus, our time was wasted.
Too many Christians are falling though for what Gary Demar calls in his book “Last Days Madness.” When a terrorist attack takes place in Israel, a new prophecy book is written. Within a decade, they will be sitting in the back storerooms of Christian bookstores as debunked. I don’t even bother buying books trying to interpret modern-day events.
Both views are missing something. The end is not the whole point. Getting there is as well. Yes. We Christians should look forward to Heaven, but that does not mean that we fail to enjoy our lives here on Earth. We should not be so focused on Heaven that we fail to bring it to Earth.