Happenings around Antioch

How Should We Live in Light of the End of Time?

18th century British writer Samuel Johnson said, ‘Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.’ Peter makes a similar observation connected to a question in the last chapter of his second letter. Since these things will take place, the dissolving of the world as we know it, Peter says, “what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness”? If the world as we know it is going to be dissolved, how should we then live? Augustine wrote about this in his book, City of God, defining virtue as “rightly ordered loves.” Our lives are filled with loves and some things we love too much and some not enough, but the summum bonum, the highest good, is God himself. We are to love him most of all and recognize that all other ‘good things’ are from his hand, including the earth we live on and the air we breathe and the family he has given us and the church community we enjoy. All of them are intended to lead us back to him. Here’s another blessing: when we rightly order our loves, we find the greatest joy. David sang to God, “…in your presence is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” 

Augustine wrote, “For there is a joy that is not given to those who do not love you, but only to those who love you for your own sake. You yourself are their joy. Happiness is to rejoice in you and for you and because of you. This is happiness and there is no other. Those who think that there is another kind of happiness look for joy elsewhere, but theirs is not true joy.” (Confessions)

That reminded me of John Piper’s well-known quote: “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”

 So, knowing the end of the age is coming and Jesus will return, how should we live? For him. With every effort towards holiness and godliness. God will help us do it; Peter told us that in the first chapter: “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him…” We have his divine power to order our loves and live worthy of the Gospel, even though we are weak. I remember when my children were little and I would ask them to ‘help me’ pick up something heavy. Even though I would be carrying 99% of the weight of it, in their minds, they were doing half the work. I would praise them for their ‘muscles’ and they would grin and flex for me.  But here’s the thing. I was loaning them my ability to carry something so they would learn to carry it on their own when their strength increased. God’s power is always needed for us to live godly lives, and we will never be able to do so on our own. But like a loving earthly father, our heavenly Father teaches us how to grow in godliness. Paul loved this word and used it a number of times, especially in his pastoral letters.

He told Timothy, “train yourself for godliness;” Godliness does not come by itself. We must put effort into it, using his divine power that gives us everything that pertains to life and godliness. It is an attitude and a manner of life for us. 

Godliness is not only worth the effort; it is to be pursued. Paul wrote to Timothy, “Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness.”  Again, godliness is how we are to live, and godliness requires our sacrifice and our effort. We must help one another grow in godliness, as that is one of the primary purposes of the church community.

In light of the end that is coming, may our hearts and minds be concentrated wonderfully on the Lord, who is our hope and our joy.