Yesterday I received an email that said, “John, I’m hearing much discussion on the recent wave of natural disasters pointing to the fact that the end of the world is near. I’d love to hear your take on it.”
Naturally, the first thing I imagined was the following dialogue between me and a person I’ll call E.T. (for “End Times”) who thinks the recent waves of natural disasters means the end of the world is near.
E.T: Hi, John! Thanks for coming over for a visit. It’s great to have a friend with whom I really don’t have much in common. Have a seat!
E.T.: So. The end of the world is at hand.
ME: Excuse me?
E.T: The end of the world. It’s at hand.
ME: It is?
E.T: Don’t you follow the news?
ME: Well, sure. I mean, I guess. I think I saw something about Brad Pitt and that great actress with the lips breaking up. But it didn’t really seem like the end of the world or anything. It is too bad, though. You know, I never understood how Brad could have left Jennifer Aniston. She really seems like …
E.T: John, you’re not listening. The end of the world is upon us.
ME: So you weren’t joking.
E.T: Look at the recent wave of natural disasters!
ME: You mean the earthquakes?
E.T: Yes, the earthquakes!
ME: But … we’ve always had earthquakes. Besides, I don’t think the world’s going to end by the planet shaking itself to death. Now, about Brad Pitt. Why can’t that guy settle down? And have you seen that beard he’s grown? Talk about the end of the world! I–
E.T: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places!”
ME: [pause] Um … Mark. No, Luke! Wait, not Luke. Revelation! Book of Revelation. Right?
E.T: It’s Matthew, John. It’s Matthew 24:7.
ME: I was gonna say that! I really was. What threw me off was that word “divers.” I love that word. But it is pretty old school. I think that’s actually Brad Pitt’s real problem. He’s getting older, see, and sometimes men in midlfe …
E.T: John! You’re not listening! The end of the world is upon us! Divers signs in the Bible point to it!
ME: [pause] Cool way of working divers into a conversation.
E.T: You are a Christian, right, John?
ME: Right. I am.
E.T: And yet you’re not worried about End Times.
ME: Well, what if this is the End Times? What’s anyone supposed to do about that? How do you pack for something like that?
E.T: You don’t pack for the End Times, John. You prepare yourself spiritually.
ME: But I’m already a Christian. I can’t be more of a Christian.
E.T: Are the people you love and care about Christian?
ME: Some are. Some aren’t.
E.T: Before the End Times arrive, we must do everything we can to save the unbelieving sinners from being left behind!
ME: Hey, did you ever try to actually read the Left Behind books? Man, if the end of literacy is a harbinger of End Times, I’m surprised I’m not flying up to heaven right now.
E.T: We must save the sinners!
ME: Great! [pause] Oh, did you mean right now? Can’t we at least finish our coffee first?
E.T: There’s no time!
ME: Right … right. Because it’s the end of times. No more … watches.
E.T: Let’s go save the sinners! [E.T. bolts wildly out the door.]
ME: Holy cow! That is one intense believer. Man, it’s so hard to believe that in this day and age, anyone could actually believe that—whoa! Did this house just shake?