[ARE THINGS GETTING BETTER OR WORSE?] I THINK . . .
By Calvin Burrell
(Reproduced with permission from the Bible Advocate, December 2009)
I’m in a confessing mood today, ready to admit my heresy. Here it is: I’m not sure that the whole world is becoming only worse and worse, as many Christians claim and a few Bible texts seem to say.
More progress than regress has come to the human condition during recorded history, it seems to me — much of it since Christ’s first advent. In compassionate treatment of infants, elders, and women; in the abolition of slavery; in public sanitation, nutrition, and healthcare; in the rise of benevolent democracies around the world; in modern conveniences that convert drudgery to leisure, providing opportunity for personal enrichment; and in many other arenas, we enjoy a higher quality of existence than did those in Bible times, those in the Middle Ages, or even those who lived a hundred years ago.
The last decade appears to challenge my theory. The recent spate of bad news about economy (not half as bad as the 1930’s), about government (mostly from one political perspective), and about church (Christianity is on the ebb in Europe and North America, where only 5-25 percent of people attend church) has convinced many folks that Armageddon is near.
It may be slow or no growth for Bible-loving, Christ-sharing folks in America, but believers still have it good around here. I think we should stop quoting a few prophetic clichés to support our negativism and let the Bible paint its own multi-hued version of our present and future. Jesus’ story of wheat and tares (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43) suggests this more realistic, balanced view. He planted good seed, and the Devil planted bad. Both grew together until the harvest.
I think this explains why we live in a world that’s getting better and worse at the same time. I agree with Whaid Rose who observed that a lot more happens in the world — both good and bad — than most people know about. I think there’s enough evil happening, thanks to the tares, to keep us praying, “Come quickly, Lord Jesus. How long?” The solution to this chronic condition requires the Second Advent.
On the other hand, I think there’s enough good going on around the planet, thanks to Jesus’ seed, to keep us thanking God, sowing more good seed, and trusting that tomorrow will, in many respects, be better than today. What do you think?