The 14th Century Perspective

My wife just emailed me to tell me that another severe earthquake has hit Chile. I don’t know what really has been the damage, and my sympathies go out to those who must be suffering greatly

Apart from the tragedy that such things are, I know what someone will soon tell me. Soon, someone will be telling me that this is just another sign of the end of the world and of the eminent return of Jesus.

Maybe it is. But there are two things that lead me to discount such interpretations of current events.

First, when Jesus speaks of natural disasters and rumors of wars in Matthew 24 and in Mark 13, his emphasis seems to me to be that these things are NOT to be taken as signs of his eminent return. His very point seems to be that we cannot accurately read these things as harbingers of the eminent end.

But Secondly, I can’t grasp how we can be saying that things are so bad. Yes, absolutely, if we were in the city center of Port Au Prince or Santiago, we would be overwhelmed with the suffering and the sorrow. I don’t mean to discount that. But what I wonder is by what historical measure can we so assuredly declare, as I’ve heard many do, that things are so bad that Christ must return? The implication of many and the expressed affirmation of others is that things could never have been as bad as they are for us. I seriously question that.

I have on my night stand a book I’ve been wanting to read for some time, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century. The author, Barbara Tuchman, has written what many believe to be a riveting and fascinating story of life in the 14th century. This would be the days during which Europe’s way of life, no, very existence, was threatened by corrupt church politics, public immorality, the incursion of ‘heathen hordes’, a 100 Years War, and the death of 1/3 of the population due to the Black Death, the bubonic plague.

I think any citizen surviving the 14th Century would probably laugh at us for claiming that we have it bad.

I think we as Christians need to be less confident in our knowledge of ‘what God is doing’ and more confident in what he has called us to do, and then just do it.