Hurtling Towards the End...and Why That's a Hopeful Thing – Matthew 25:1-13
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.
The only difference between the "wise" and "foolish" bridesmaids in the parable is that the foolish ones didn't realize God wouldn't meet their preconceived understanding of how the bridegroom would act (i.e., God's ways are a mystery to us). The wise ones brought enough oil to last the duration because they knew God would probably be late. So, how do we act while we wait alongside the terrors and atrocities of the world?
Christian eschatology (the study of the "end times") confesses that we are headed towards the ultimate end of God's renewal, recreation, and resurrection of the dead. If human history is an arrow, this renewal of all things is the target. Our thoughts, words, and deeds today ought to line up with where we will end up. So, we live with a hope that is active rather than passive.
As we wait for God, we do so understanding that life is difficult but that the present moment is infused with grace because grace is our final destination. Rather than being caught unprepared as the foolish bridesmaids were, we live lives of hope and peace that reflect the eschatology of a all-powerful, loving, and creative God.