Last week, I was in a small group, where they asked an icebreaker question. We were asked to name a movie or book for each of the following categories:
- Makes you laugh
- Makes you cry
- Makes you think
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I listed two books in the middle category that were both post-apocalyptic: On the Beach by Nevil Shute and The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Why were these books so compelling? Well, post-apocalyptic fiction as a genre tends to deal with regular people trying to make their way through extraordinary circumstances. The situation is generally grim, perilous, and urgent. Think of movies like The Book of Eli, Blindness, I Am Legend, The Road Warrior. There is generally a quest or journey of some kind – an effort to find refuge in the midst. Whether it’s a literal place of refuge or the search for a cure or solution, the stakes are always high. Have you read Fritz Lieber’s short story “A Pail of Air”? Go ahead and find it. I’ll wait.
As compelling as the literature may be, Christ-followers need to recognize that we are already living in a post-apocalyptic landscape.
No, I don’t mean the Biblical Apocalypse, as described in Revelation (Greek apokalypsis). But a large-scale cataclysmic event leading to the breakdown of order and the desperation seen in post-apocalyptic fiction has already happened. It was not a nuclear exchange, a spontaneous zombie spawning, a global natural disaster, or a mysterious disease outbreak. It happened way back in the Garden, and it was the Fall of Man.
Most of us don’t have to seek solace from lawless raiders in a desert wasteland or a biosphere that is collapsing in on itself. But we all feel the effects of sin. And for much of the world, hope is absent in our storyline, because people have not heard the saving message of the Gospel. So they push through life – either devoid of hope altogether or, worse, clinging to false hope. See Hebrews 4:1-2, quoted here from the ESV:
Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened.
God’s rest is available “by faith”. It’s not a vain dream like Sanctuary in Logan’s Run, nor is it of questionable value like the Boy found at the end of The Road. It is what a barren and scourged world needs.
But what can we do? Well, like characters in the books and movies I’ve mentioned, we need to live with a sense of urgency. I believe it is no accident that this chapter of Hebrews points to Psalm 95:7-8, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts”. It says “Today”! Not over time, not sometime in the coming days or years. Today means today!
As we look to Christ’s sufficiency in all things in our lives, we cannot help but enter this rest. I pray that I will see the totality of the “rest” in light of the urgency of “today”. As you wander through the post-apocalyptic wasteland we all inhabit, who has God placed in your path for the purpose of the Gospel?