We live in the last days. Jesus predicts the destruction of the Temple to illustrate his point. And many of his followers have been misconstruing his meaning ever since.
|Carl Spitzweg’s “The Portrait Painter”|
Unfortunately, many of us have misunderstood what Jesus means by “the last days,” and that misunderstanding has distorted lives with anxious urgency, fear, and despair. By contrast, Jesus intends for his teaching about the last days to inspire perseverance, joy, and peace.
|Viktor Vasnetsov’s “Judgment Day”|
There were some very bright, hard-working students who struggled with timed exams. They knew the material and—for reasons that we understand much better today and now usually make accommodation for—could not complete the exam.
Others had simply managed their time poorly, pouring energy into essays worth fewer points and leaving the main essay for last, only to run out of time to execute what they had in mind.
|Edvard Munch’s “Despair”|
Thinking of God as an objective test-grader can make some people morally rigid and judgmental. They are like the older brother in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. Convinced that they have always done what is right, they assume that they deserve a reward for their conduct, look with contempt on those whom they consider their moral inferior, and take some pleasure in the thought that those who don’t make the grade will be punished.
|Albert Joseph Moore’s “The End of the Story”|
|Carl Larsson’s “The Carpenter Shop”|
We begin to experience tranquility, because we can take reality on its own terms. Life is not always fair, but even more crucially, life is not always just. We are called only to do the limited good that we can do while trusting that God is making perfect justice happen in his time.