What were your first thoughts when you heard that there was a 5.8 earthquake two days ago, centered in Virginia and felt along the entire Eastern Seaboard? For most of us an earthquake centered somewhere like California wouldn’t cause us to think anything “strange” was occurring. But minutes following the earthquake, many took to Facebook and Twitter to make comments about this significant event, and more than just a few made mention of Matthew 24:7 “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.”
Of course this isn’t the only Doomsday talk that is circling the media. Earlier this year, Harold Camping announced that the Rapture would take place on a certain day at an exact hour–which obviously didn’t occur. He has since tweaked his ‘prophecy‘ and has come up with a new date! Then there is the famed Mayan Calendar showing that the world will end on December 21, 2012. Hollywood has even gotten on this bandwagon! While most adults can hear these predictions and usually put little credence in them, how does the Doomsday talk affect our kids?
Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson, a pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, who was interviewed by ABC News about the affects of Doomsday predictions on kids, was quoted as saying “It depends on how your children absorb media,” If they’re plunked down in front of the TV hearing ‘the end of the world’ a bunch of times and then seeing photos of the Missouri tornadoes, it may come together in their minds as something real and scary. Kids of preschool age have a hard time determining reality from non-reality and their imaginations are on fire.”
As a Christ follower who looks forward to the day when I can see my Savior face to face, I understand the excitement that many of us feel when we think prophetic Scripture is being played out. That being said, I don’t think we need to dwell on WHEN Jesus will return, because He made it clear that no one knows the exact hour, except God the Father. As parents, a good way to prevent getting caught up in the ‘end of the world’ frenzy and causing undue anxiety in our families, is to simply remember that we are called to stay ready for that glorious day when Jesus does return! But what does it mean to “stay ready”? And how do we instill that consistent righteous behavior in our kids?
Jesus answers this question by using an illustration from everyday life. Suppose a master is going away for a while. He entrusts responsibility for managing his household to one of his servants. A foolish servant would use the master’s absence as an opportunity to abuse the other servants while indulging his base appetites with too much food and drink, all on the master’s ticket. When the master returns unexpectedly, the foolish servant will be punished for his abusive and wasteful behavior.
In contrast to the foolish servant, Jesus explains: Luke 12:42-43 “A faithful, sensible servant is one to whom the master can give the responsibility of managing his other household servants and feeding them. If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward.” The wise servant was ready for his master’s return, not because he spent his efforts trying to project the time of that return, but because he did well what the master had given him to do.
We’ll be ready for Jesus to come back if we bear witness to him in word and in deed, generously sharing the good news of the kingdom, the blessings God has entrusted to us, and even how the Lord is working in our own lives. I will be fully ready for the return of my Master when I am intentionally following him in every avenue of my life. As for our children, once they get to an age of reason, teaching them the idea of repentance and instructing them, how to personally ask Jesus into their hearts is also something that we can to do to help them stay ready for His imminent return. And if Jesus doesn’t return in our earthly lifetimes, we have the hope, given to us by His Spirit, that we will see Him face to face in the next life! What joy to know that no matter what, we will be reunited with our Master!