The year’s at the spring
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hill-side’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn:
God’s in his heaven—
All’s right with the world!
– Robert Browning
Someone described America in the paper today as a dystopia and I had to look it up. I figured it was something like a dysfunctional utopia and I wasn’t far off. “An imagined place or state where everything is unpleasant or bad.” With everything that’s going on right now, a case could be made for this, except for the fact that God has not abandoned us.
Nor has the end come yet. It may seem closer than ever before, but it’s not here. Still, I’m surprised at how little mention there is of the end times these days. The spiritual revolution of the 1970s was accompanied by a strong conviction that the end was near. Hal Lindsey published The Late Great Planet Earth, Larry Norman sang “I Wish We’d All Been Ready” and just about every other singer or Christian rock group — even Dylan; Peter, Paul & Mary; and Creedence Clearwater — had at least one song about the Lord coming back. With things the way they are, I would have expected a similar focus these days, but nothing doing. It almost seems like an archaic concept.
I have a theory about that. I’ve wondering if the reason we haven’t been hearing much about the end times might be because Christians are so focused on political change that they think they can arrest the dystopia by voting in the right people. So we’re focused more on the here and now than the hereafter. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the scriptures do tell us to wait and watch. Jesus told us to watch for the signs like a farmer reads the sky at sunset. And just about all the writers in the New Testament actually believed they would see the return of the Lord in their lifetime. So looking for the return of Christ is a part of the reality of believers in every age. Bring it on, I say.
But as well as watching, we have a life to attend to now, and that’s where the English poet Robert Browning comes in. His well-known verse about God in His heaven is a comforting one from the standpoint that the wheels haven’t come off the wagon just yet. This may seem like a dystopia we are living in, but still there is dew on the hillside, there are birds in the air and snails in your garden and these facts should tell us that everything’s as it should be. God is still in His heaven and that reminds us that He is in charge.
But don’t stop waiting and watching. John says that the hope of Christ’s return is something that purifies us (1 John 3:3). So God’s in control, and when things can’t get much worse, Christ will return. So be on guard and look for that great day.