THE door swung open and there stood Max. Usually joking and happy, my teenage friend looked somber. ``The world is coming to an end,'' he announced soberly, ``and I need to know how to be ready.'' My heart went out to this troubled youth, who had been introduced to the warning of Armageddon, the final conflict between good and evil, but had not yet looked deeply enough into the Bible to discover its powerful message of love and healing, safety and salvation.
Should we feel intimidated today by the threat of destruction? For our answer, Christian Science points to the teachings and example of Christ Jesus. He warned his followers of war and destruction in the material world, but at the same time he urged them to recognize their spiritual dominion as the children of God.
He called himself ``the light of the world,'' but he also made it clear to his followers that they must obey his example, claim their own sonship with God, and follow the light of Christ. Light illuminates and reveals man's goodness. It destroys nothing but darkness.
Jesus' healing works destroyed sin and sickness, lack and limitation, but they did not destroy man, who is spiritual. His teachings of love, meekness, and peace eliminated hatred and greed, cruelty and vengeance, but they did not destroy individual capacity to learn, grow, and advance spiritually. He healed, and told his followers to go and do likewise. What his enlightened, healing ministry revealed was God's own creation of spiritual freedom, goodness, and power. This universe is demonstrable, eternal, and will never come to an end.
No one who makes the effort to understand the message of the Bible should be naive about the perils that confront mankind today. But neither can we ignore the Scriptural distinction between the destruction of the works of darkness, or sin, and the clear message the Bible offers to mankind of ongoing salvation and redemption for all. What Jesus brought to the world was not a threat of extinction, but the promise of salvation. He declared, ``I came not to judge the world, but to save the world'' (John 12:47).
Today, as it has always done, the Christ, the true idea of God Jesus exemplified, acts powerfully in human consciousness to uplift and purify. It does not eliminate the human, but transforms it, revealing man to be the exact likeness of God, possessing the indestructible nature of his divine creator. When we grasp the necessity of Christly transformation in our lives, we no longer stand in the shadow of a future, one-time cataclysmic judgment that holds mankind in terror of its threat. Rather, we see the great necessity and growing prominence of Christliness in individual lives. This spiritual impetus is destructive to nothing but sin-- the materialistic belief that there is power, life, and intelligence in something other than God.
It gives us great hope to realize that mankind is not on the brink of destruction, but is at the threshold of tremendous and joyous spiritual discovery. And this discovery will be accomplished individually through spiritual progress, prayer, and Christian practice. Willingness to progress makes each of us vital to the safety and salvation of the world.
Christian Science presents a fresh look at the future of mankind- -one seen not in fear of destruction, but in the enlightenment of spiritual progress that conquers sin. And this is an understanding that can comfort all of us who, like Max, are concerned about the many challenges the world is facing.
The author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, exclaims in this book: ``For victory over a single sin, we give thanks and magnify the Lord of Hosts. What shall we say of the mighty conquest over all sin? A louder song, sweeter than has ever before reached high heaven, now rises clearer and nearer to the great heart of Christ; for the accuser is not there, and Love sends forth her primal and everlasting strain'' (p. 568).
No one needs to fear the destruction of sin. The sinless world of Truth never comes to an end.
They asked him, saying,
Master, but when shall these things be?
and what sign will there be
when these things shall come to pass?
And he said,
Take heed that ye be not deceived:
for many shall come in my name, saying,
I am Christ; and the time draweth near:
go ye not therefore after them.
But when ye shall hear
of wars and commotions,
be not terrified:
for these things must first come to pass;
but the end is not by and by. . . .
And there shall be signs in the sun,
and in the moon, and in the stars;
and upon the earth distress of nations,
the sea and the waves roaring;
men's hearts failing them for fear,
and for looking after those things
which are coming on the earth:
for the powers of heaven
shall be shaken.
And then shall they see
the Son of man coming in a cloud
with power and great glory.
And when these things
begin to come to pass,
then look up, and lift up your heads;
for your redemption draweth nigh.
Luke 21:7-9, 25-28