Advent Reflections #21 – This age, and the age to come

NOTE: This reflection was first written for 21/12/2012 which will provide context for the opening sentence.

According to popular myths which have arisen surrounding an ancient Mayan prophecy today marks the end of the world.
If you’re reading this then I guess the world hasn’t ended.
Recognising that these kinds of prophecies can result in all manner of crazy behaviour in people, scholars have been at pains to point out that the proper understanding of the Mayan prophecy is that today marks the end of an ‘age’, and the beginning of a new one.

When Jesus came into the world he ushered in a new age in the history of the world, the universe and everything, and he talked about this age, and the age to come.
His parables refer to ‘the end of the age’ and interchangeably he would take about the life to come, or the age to come.
It would seem that the Mayans have connected with something profoundly real about this universe. Whether or not their dates are correct I’m less concerned about, but I do find it interesting that they’ve understood that there is this age, and the age to come.

For many of us we have grown up with an understanding of how this age and the age to come work. It tends towards this life, this age, being a waiting experience for the next one where it will be so much better and everything will be perfect. We envisage a disposable earth which will make way for a perfect heaven and therefore find no attachment to this natural world as it’s passing away. Our evangelism seems to orient around the idea that we must be saved in this age if we are to be a part of the next age, and there’s a time limit on it to get your ticket to heaven after which the train leaves this universe forever.

Whilst it’s true that the life and the age to come will be defined more like how things were in the garden of Eden than how they are now, we should see in Jesus coming into this age that it matters much more than letting it pass by whilst we wait for the next one.
More than that, Jesus’ life and how he lived it tells us what God’s view of this age is like. The medium is the message. He has come so we can have life now, and have it in its fullness. He has come to seek and save the lost, the broken, the frustrated creation now, not at some future point in time.

God loves this age in spite of all its brokenness, sinfulness and the way we continually reject Him and His love. And that is good news for us. In fact it’s great news!
Whatever is broken in your life, Jesus has come to value it and make it whole again.
Whatever sins have separated you from God and your neighbour, Jesus has come to value you and restore you into right relationships again.
However lost you are, Jesus has come to value you like a precious lost coin that you just don’t let stay lost and to rejoice in finding you.

This advent may you know that Jesus has come to give you life in this age, and in the age to come.
May you know that His life of abundance and freedom is your life too if you receive Him.
May you not waste this life waiting, ticket in hand, and be released to love this age and those around you the way God does.