i've been thinking about something Billy said to me in a conversation we were having the other day. As is often the case we wandered around several ideas about the church and about the world and we wondered out loud what on earth we are doing. The subject of salvation came up and what it means to be motivated to evangelize...and then Billy said something like this:
"The church seems to be so worried about people going to hell when they die, but what about the world around us that has already gone to hell?"
This was a very clarifying reflection for me. I was able to see (again) how our present-tense practices of love and justice must be drawing on the hope we have in the future. our understanding about the "end times" (eschatology) needs to be funded by the fact that, for many of our dear friends and family, the end is now. if you doubt this (and many of us have such luxury in this part of the world) just take some time to find out about Niger or Sudan or even your own neighborhood or city.
What we think about the end times is not some theological side-issue. it is the bread-and-butter of an engaged, gospel life. We need to find a sustainable way to acknowledge and act on the hell in and around us. Sometimes we are overcome with despair or we fly into a frantic "save the world" fit. I think David Bosch described it best...he called for a gentle urgency.