What If Jesus Doesn’t Return for 500,000 Years?

If you have followed this blog for a while, you know that I have little grace for those who try to convince others Jesus is returning soon. Harold Camping, Edgar Whisenhut, and Tim LaHaye and his Left Behind books have all been the target of my sarcasm.

My reaction is not without reason. Those who preach such things, while likely from good motives ,can have a devastating effect on Christians investment in advancing God’s kingdom of earth. After all, why polish brass on a sinking ship?

So, I would like to posit a possibility for you to consider: What if Jesus doesn’t return for 500,000 years?

Is that so unthinkable? Why would Jesus have told parables about the ten virgins unless He was not going to return for a very long time? And if your initial response is “Jesus said he was returning ‘soon,'” – if it means 2,000 years, it could just as easily mean 500,000 years. “Soon” is not 2,000 years in any human’s vocabulary. “Yes,” you say, “but to God a day is as a thousand years.” Yes, to God it is, but when Jesus said He was returning soon, He was talking to men. It would make no sense to give men a timetable using metrics that meant nothing to them.

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The Great Evangelical Brainwashing

Brainwashing is a terrible thing. It’s what happens when a person is exposed to only one point of view and any opposition to it is always portrayed in a negative light. In totalitarian regimes brainwashing is done through control of the media and promulgation of propaganda.

Have you ever wondered how Germans could have followed Hitler in support of his hellish policies? It’s easy actually. Germans thought Hitler was right because their state controlled monolithic, propaganda-producing media, told them he was right, and they were never told he was wrong.

The same thing is happening in Russia right now. More than 50% of Russians support Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. They do so because Putin and the state controlled media are telling them Ukrainian leaders are Nazis, are persecuting Russians in Ukraine, and are controlled by US and Nato forces intent on destroying Russia. None of that is true, of course, but Russians believe it, and they believe it because they are told that and told nothing to the contrary.

Evangelicals look at the examples of the Nazis and modern day Russia and thank God they live in a country where the government cannot brainwash them, but then they voluntarily choose to brainwash themselves. They do this by getting their news from only one source (typically Fox News) or from the same ideological stream of sources (Breitbart, Newsmax, Fox News). As a result, all that evangelicals hear merely reinforces what they have already heard.

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Reaction to Will Smith Slapping Chris Rock at Oscars

From a purely practical perspective what happened at last night’s Oscars was truly ironic. Chris Rock was wrong to say what he said about Jada Smith but as it is, Will Smith’s physical assault of Rock, and Rock’s professional response completely reframed the event and made Rock the victim and Smith the villain.

I’ve been a fan of both Rock and Smith for years, and what happened last night was bad for everyone involved. There is plenty of blame-casting going on in social media and in the news today. I am not here to pile on.

Instead, I want to add a different perspective-the Kingdom perspective. It is why this blog exists, to offer a perspective of how things should be when the world is functioning the way King Jesus intends–how it will be when the kingdom of God covers the earth as the waters cover the seas. All the trendy talk about “toxic masculinity” misses the point, as does facile condemnations of violence. Masculinity is not toxic any more than femininity is toxic, and violence is sometimes necessary, as it is right now in Ukraine to stop an evil Russian dictator from going Hitler on his Ukrainian neighbors.

Let’s start with Chris Rock. In the kingdom of God, comedians exist to entertain people by making them laugh. Some comedians are funnier than others, and there are different styles of comedy, but the purpose is the same for all: entertain people by making them laugh.

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2022 Academy Award Nominees for Best Picture

It’s that time of year again, and in preparation for it, I provided a kingdom-based framework for evaluating movies. No, it was not determined by how much sex or profanity were in the movie but in light of the purpose for which movies exist in the Kingdom.

With that three-prong framework in mind, here are my rankings of the 2022 nominees for Best Picture, starting with the best and ending with the … err…less best.

1. CODA. I haven’t cried watching a movie in years, but that’s not the only reason I rated this movie at the top of this year’s nominees. CODA is entertaining and engaging. You care about the characters and their stories. The movie has an excellent message about family, responsibility, and the life of the deaf. If you watch only one movie on this list, it should be this one.

2. King Richard. A very entertaining movie about the tension between family and success. If you are torn between praising and cursing Richard Williams in this movie, you get it. The movie was engaging and the message honest.

3. Don’t Look Up. I love dark comedies, which is probably why I have this movie in the third spot. I love serious messages presented tongue-in-cheek. The message in this movie couldn’t be more timely, particularly if you are an evangelical, stop-the-steal, covid-denying, Trumper.

4. West Side Story. This was the last of the nominees The Wife and I saw, and for good reason: I didn’t expect much from the sequel. But we were very pleasantly surprised. Great music and great message. Don’t miss this one, even if you saw the original.

5. Nightmare Alley. Fascinating movie with an ending that hits you like a sledgehammer. The message: it doesn’t matter how much you try to bury your past, wherever you go, there you are.

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Some Thoughts on the New Year

Each year, I try to set goals for the new year. It’s a good practice, and when I set those goals prayerfully I have that extra assurance and motivation that those goals should and can be achieved. Without being intentional, we become subject to all the random forces around us. Our lives become a crap shoot.

But even when we are intentional, the randomness of life can overtake us to the point we feel like the ship being driven by the wind and waves while we hold on for dear life. 2021 was such a year for me.

I travelled repeatedly across the country to help my parents move out of their home of twenty years into an assisted living facility, while my father was slowing slipping out of this world into the next. When he passed away in July, and I was planning his funeral, and dealing with the grief, I was diagnosed with a health problem of my own. Then in September, while on vacation–our first in two years because of the pandemic–I developed another unrelated health problem, that led to new tests, concerns, and more doctor appointments.

We looked forward to a good holiday season and had scheduled hip replacement surgery for my 86 year old mother with the hope she would be able to walk again, but two days before she was to travel here for the surgery, the results of a cardiology test showed a heart problem which required a catheterization procedure and postponement of the hip replacement.

About the same time we were learning about my mother, my brother was hospitalized with COVID-19. A few days later, he was moved into the ICU, and it wasn’t clear if he would survive. Fortunately, by the mercy of God, he turned the corner on Christmas Day, and while he is still in the hospital he appears to be on the road to recovery.

Then, my cousin died of lymphoma on December 30, 2021. He had not told anyone but immediate family about his illness, so we were shocked when we heard he had died.

All the events I just described largely defined my year, and yet, I had nothing to do with their occurrence. All, I could do was respond to them, while at the same time continuing to seek God, doing my work, discipling others, and pursuing the goals He gave me at the beginning of the year.

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