I’m in Chicago, where I have been attending the 50th Anniversary Conference of the Christian Legal Society, a wonderful gathering of Christian lawyers, law students and some law faculty and deans. Last night was the gala banquet, the keynote speaker at which was Ann Graham Lotz, daughter of Billy Graham.
Lotz believes that this is the last generation – that before the end of her generation, Jesus will come again and the world as we know it will end. She spent at least forty-five minutes explaining the scriptural basis for her view – talking about Jesus’ description to his disciples in Matthew 24 of those things that will signal the end of the world, Luke 21 and a number of other passages.
The truth is that I found some of her evidence for how she thinks various signs have been fulfilled to be a bit torturous. But that is not really my point.
As she was going through her evidence, my dominant reaction was so what? Why should it matter? Let’s assume she is right – which, as I said, I don’t think is the case, but hold that aside for a moment. The real question is: if I am living the best life of discipleship I can, why should I care if the world ends in this generation or in a future generation?
After forty-five minutes of giving her evidence for why she believes this is the last generation, she talked about the fact that people are indifferent to God and God’s word. And she said that if we are approaching the end of history, there is nothing more important than to walk with God.
Whether or not she intends this, that makes is sound like the motivation for walking with God is fear about what will happen to us when Jesus comes in judgment. But no matter what age we are in, there is nothing more important than to walk with God.
I hope that our motivation for discipleship is based on love not fear – our love of God and our reaction to our apprehension of God’s unconditional love for us. And if we need any impetus for now putting off developing our relationshp with God and living lives of intentional discipleship, contempating the limited span of our own lives ought to be enough for that, without hazarding guesses about the end of the whole world.
Of course, is it not just about us. Our discipleship includes concern, not only for our own salvation, but for that of our brothers and sisters. And I don’t disagree with Lotz that there is a lot of indifference to God and God’s Word in the world. But the way to help people overcome that indifference is not to try to convince them that the world is ending so they better watch out or they will be judged harshly, but to help them get in touch with God’s love for them.
And that love is the same in all generations.