Is the world coming to an end?

Bringing a spiritual perspective to daily life

The answer to this question may well depend on whom you ask. For example, if we could ask a man named Enoch, an individual in early Bible history, he would probably have answered, "For me, yes!" As the Bible has it, Enoch "walked with God" (Gen. 5:22). His life of godliness led him right out of a world of discord and mortality.

Elijah, an Old Testament prophet, could have had a similar answer. After a mighty struggle with events of the world, he, too, moved immediately into heaven, and his earthly battles came to an end. (See II Kings 2:11.)

More than anyone, Christ Jesus directly answered this apocalyptic question. He said, "I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). He said this even before his ascension.

Is it realistic to think of conquering the world today – that is, bringing to an end the worldliness that seems to hold everyone in its grip? Perhaps it's more practical and even more natural than most people have realized. And perhaps this event takes place right within our own life more than through some sort of cataclysmic happening outside of us. Is it possible that something that sounds as dramatic as "the end of the world" could actually be a quiet, inner, spiritual experience – something to be desired – instead of some horrific event that the movies might portray?

Some may argue that the world comes to an end for everybody when they die. Maybe we shouldn't be too sure of that simplistic view. In fact, I believe St. Paul would have challenged such a concept. He did say, "To be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace" (Rom. 8:6).

To me, he is saying that we really don't get rid of the world by dying out of it. Actually, death may eventually be recognized more as Paul describes it – as a condition of worldly-mindedness – than as a bodily event. This kind of "death" is essentially an absence of real life and living, the supposed absence of the consciousness of divine Life, God, and all the goodness of God's infinite reality.

The only way to bring this matter-based world of mortality to an end is to grow out of it spiritually. The demand to do this may be just as much a requirement for us in the "here" as in the hereafter. The more spiritually-minded we are here, the more life and peace – the more heaven – we have now.

We can grow into spiritual-mindedness daily. In such a profound way, the world comes to an end – that is, worldly elements of fear and doubt, discord and disease, come to a stop – as our spirituality, our Christliness, is increasingly lived.

Once, I was about knocked over by what I felt was a terribly harsh comment directed at me. It was as though my little world crumbled – at least for the moment. But I prayed about my relationship with this individual, recognizing that our brotherhood came from the Father we both had – God. A strong and lasting friendship developed over the years, and we were each blessed. My world of doubt and uncertainty about this relationship – my false concept of it – is what actually came to an end. I've since thought of a certain Bible promise as having vast implications if we are willing to acknowledge God as the true source of our being. It says, "Whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world" (I John 5:4). As we see that we are of God, not of the world, we overcome the world.

Perhaps to the disappointment of some, and yet to the gratitude of others, we grow into heaven step by step and grow out of the world by the same steps. We may have imagined giant movie-type disruptions that show the world coming to an end. But more likely it's going to happen with what may seem, from a worldly view, to be relatively modest examples of living fearlessly, expressing more spiritual goodness, facing down temptations, discovering the power of God's love.

Such lives as those of Enoch, Elijah, Paul, and Christ Jesus tell us the real story about how the world is going to close out its final chapters. Already there may have been times when these and other individuals have inspired you. You've probably had moments when you felt blessed, healed, redeemed – even caught a little taste of heaven. For you, then, worldliness has already started coming to an end.

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