5 Things You Fight When You Think On the End

Let me tell you one reason why video games are bad.

A kid can play through a video game based on a movie, or a movie series, and know how the whole thing winds up without ever having watched it him or herself. It’s even worse when that video game is based on a movie which is based on a book. Case in point, not long ago my wife and I watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade with the kids. It’s a great movie. Classically great. One of my favorites.

If you’ve seen the movie, you know the climactic scene at the end is when the main characters, after having competed and raced and hunted for the holy grail, are presented with a choice in a room full of cups. If they chose the true holy grail, then they could use its healing powers to save the life of Dr. Jones Sr, who lay in another room dying. But if they chose the wrong cup, drinking from it would mean their doom. So the tension builds as they gaze around at the hundreds of cups set before them, and…

… and my older son says, “That guy’s gonna choose the wrong one.” He knew this fact because some years ago he had played through Lego Indiana Jones on the Wii. Ending ruined. Thanks, video games.

So knowing the ending is bad when it comes to climactic movie moments, but it’s very good in real life. In a sense, we are peeking at the last page when we read the book of Revelation. We see how all things are eventually going to wind up, though the language and imagery we find there is still mysterious. This is good for us. In fact, the word “look” appears some 24 times in my translation of Revelation. In it, we are told to look and see the conquering Christ returning; look and see the realities of heaven; look and see the destruction of evil and the devil.

Look, look, look. Look to the end. When we look to the end, to the reality that is and will soon be fully realized, we are actually arming ourselves to fight in the present. So what exactly are we fighting in the present when we look to the end? At least these five things:

1. Anxiety.

From where does our anxiety come? At least in part, it comes from a lack of knowledge of confidence about tomorrow. We don’t know what’s going to happen, and so we find ourselves wringing our hands and hearts about what comes next. When we look to the end, we take up arms against anxiety because though we don’t know what specifically might come tomorrow, we do know what eventually will. And that’s Jesus – and with Him, an end to everything sad and unjust.

2. Despondency.

Despondency is a state of low spirits caused by loss of hope or courage. And it’s easy for us to slip into despondency. We look to the present and we see destruction. Death. Decay. Degradation. Indecency. And our spirits fall underneath the weight of these things. But when we look to the end, we see that though there are many twists and turns in history, God is drawing a straight line of redemption through it all. We see that history bends toward the acknowledged reign of King Jesus. We look to the end and know that these labor pains, though painful, are only the preliminaries of the joy that is to follow.

3. Materialism.

The weight of glory that is to come crushes the silliness of materialism. That shirt, or that chair, or that car, or that whatever is very nice. And yet we know the warning of Jesus, to not store up for ourselves treasures here on the earth. His warning is one of logic – all that stuff is eventually going to rust, or fade, or be eaten up by moths. Invest in something better instead (Matt. 6:19-21). So when we look to the end, are are taking up arms against our thirst for stuff and intentionally reorienting our gaze toward that which does not fade.

4. Fear.

There is much to be afraid of. Very much. And yet Jesus told us that we should not fear men who can destroy the body, but instead fear  the one who can destroy both the body and soul in hell (Matt. 10:28-31). The command here is rooted in the knowledge of eternity. If eternity is real, and if we regularly look to it, then we will find increasingly that the fears of the earth will grow strangely dim. If we want to fight fear, then, our best weapon is not telling ourselves “that thing will never happen,” but instead asking ourselves, “so what if it does?”.

5. Apathy.

It has been said that Christians can be so heavenly minded that they’re no earthly good. But you see the opposite perspective in the Bible. That by looking to the end, we become more and more aware of just what a vapor life is, and we develop more and more urgency around the work God has called us to for the sake of His kingdom. We don’t become more apathetic by looking to the end; we become more and more active because we know the end is surely coming.

The end is good news. Yes, of course, there will be many trials and tribulations to come. But we have been given the gift of the end of the story so that we might not worry, we might not be overcome, we might not be weighed down, we might not fear, and we might not become lazy. Look to the end, and see King Jesus who reigns forever.

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