Doomsday vs. Resurrection

We can turn the darkness around us in the brightness of noon, as the Prophet Isaiah said, if we live out the core principles of compassion and peace that are shared by the world's great religions.
04/04/2013 10:41 am ET Updated Jun 04, 2013
FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2012 file photo, corn plants weakened by the drought lie on the ground after being knocked over by r
FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2012 file photo, corn plants weakened by the drought lie on the ground after being knocked over by rain in Bennington, Neb. Slowing the buildup of greenhouse gases responsible for warming the planet is one of the biggest challenges the U.S. _ and President Barack Obama _ faces. The impacts of rising global temperatures are widespread and costly: more severe storms, rising seas, species extinctions, and changes in weather patterns that will alter food production and the spread of disease. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File)

National Public Radio asked this week how close the world was to Doomsday. People since, well, the beginning of time have been asking similar questions.

We live in the only era, however, where humanity has the actual power to end what God created. North Korea's reckless behavior in recent weeks plus even more reports about the danger of global climate change offers evidence that human sinfulness could shut down forever or fundamentally alter the creation we have been called to be responsible stewards of.

Yet, hope is not lost. In church this Easter Sunday we celebrated the Resurrection and remembered the ways in which we are being called to live in ways that bring new life from death. God is calling us still -- urgently, I believe -- to take light to dark places. We can, I am convinced, turn the darkness around us in the brightness of noon, as the Prophet Isaiah said, if we live out the core principles of compassion and peace that are shared by the world's great religions.

This belief is born not out of blind optimism but out of hope born from witnessing goodness triumph over evil. The realities of our time force us to confront horrifying scenarios for the future but also require us to practice boldness in an effort to reclaim the great vineyard of life that God intends for us.

I preached Easter morning that what we need is a Resurrection attitude in which we can envision the world in the new ways that Jesus envisioned when he proclaimed the Kingdom. And we need to be willing, as Jesus was, to carry our crosses in the pursuit of this better life. Eternal life may greet us when we die but Jesus taught that the Kingdom was in the here and now and that it was an ideal worth dying for.

As a people of the Resurrection, we need to work toward new life that protects our environment that we have been given stewardship over so that God's children in generations to come inherit the sustainable earth we have been gifted.

As a people of the Resurrection, we need to work toward an end to gun violence -- and violence of every kind -- and follow instead the path of Jesus, who practiced nonviolence. This work of ending violence must extend from our neighborhoods to every corner of the earth.

As a people of the Resurrection, we need to be concerned, like Jesus was, with children and the elderly, with those living in poverty, and all those on the margins. This calls us to join the struggle for equality for all people in ways both big and large, to be concerned about freedom for people everywhere, to be concerned about education for boys and girls, to demand safe streets to walk on along, and for paths that people can walk that lead from hopelessness to hope.

Some will say that such hope for the world is too idealistic or the work to hard. But I have experienced the Resurrection. I know there is hope where darkness exists because I have experienced the Risen Christ in my heart, through our Scriptures, and in moments of worship.

And I've seen moments of Resurrection in our world. It happened when Nelson Mandela walked out of prison to become a president. It happened when people -- ordinary people -- tore down the Berlin Wall as the armies of the world's superpowers stood down. Those were moments of Resurrection, life pulled back from death, and in each of those moments -- just like each time a volunteer feeds a hungry child -- the Kingdom is born anew.

I'm aware that the battle to save the world from human sinfulness is not a Christian project alone and thus I honor and welcome the insights and contributions of all people of faith -- and all people in general. Christians, who too often have played a role in the world's problems, have both much to learn and to offer.

Doomsday in our time is a possibility. The Holocaust, the proliferation of nuclear weapons, climate change -- all these events offer evidence of this. That is the bad news of our time. These challenges, however, also offer opportunities to shape the world anew in ways that affirm a vision of the Beloved Community, that place where all of creation lives in peace and justice. That's the good news. That hope is lived out today by those seeking to bring peace to places torn apart by war, by those working for an end to poverty and hunger, by advocates seeking to diminish gun violence, and by all those who seek common ground on issues of great concern despite theological or political differences. I have hope that if we are bold, if we are willing to sacrifice, we will fully become the people of the Resurrection and not the instigators of doom.