The end of the world has fixated humans for thousands of years. Everyone has an imaginative picture of how human history will close. Take The Walking Dead for instance, a television show, which on the surface is a show about zombies, but it is really a show about human mortality, morality, and the end of civilization. In the vein of most post-apocalyptic visions, it asks powerful existential question: what happens when culture erodes and civilization is destroyed? If you’ve watch the show, or other media like it, you’ll discover a fairly grim answer.
St. Augustine asked a similar question. He lived in an era when Roman civilization was collapsing. Savagery and brutality were increasingly all around him. The institutions that held the Western Roman world together for so long were fundamentally broken. Christians were terrified of what was coming upon them. Augustine’s response was simple:
The Heavenly City outshines Rome, beyond comparison. There, instead of victory, is truth; instead of high rank, holiness; instead of peace, felicity; instead of life eternity.
Augustine was attempting to remind Christians that while the outlook for most of humanity is grim, those found in Jesus understand how the world will truly end. In a sense, the question about what happens when a civilization collapses is irrelevant to Christians. Nations will rise and fall, civilizations will be destroyed, and our political institutions will fail us, but our world only ends with the heavenly city coming down out of heaven, with paradise being re-established on earth, and with humanity walking in the presence of their God (Rev. 21).
Television shows like The Walking Dead, are reminders to Christians that humans have an intuitive understanding that civilizations often end in desolation and destruction. We know this too. We know humanity has no bright future on its own. But we can have confidence in the fact that Jesus will come again to make all things right, including the earth. The end of the world is in one sense, a new beginning, where, as C.S. Lewis writes:
“But for them it was only the beginning of the real story…now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
Stay hopeful friends, in the midst of global uncertainty, Jesus is bringing our home to us soon.