There’s a constant refrain in the news media at the moment, that we live in a period of unprecedented uncertainty. I can’t help but feel however that there’s an element of hyperbole about this. Yes there is uncertainty just now, but perhaps you’d like to tell me when there wasn’t. Quite a few of you lived through WWII and the one thing I think I can be sure of, is that it wasn’t a period of certainty, nor was the period of high inflation in the 70s, economic turbulence of the 80s, the effect of tensions in the Middle East on oil prices in the 90s, the sub-prime crisis which led the world into recession in this century, or the populist political shift which has put Donald Trump and Boris Johnson into positions of high office.
In a résumé of a book called “Certainty to Uncertainty: The Story of Science and Ideas in the Twentieth Century”, by physicist F. David Peat, I read:
“Early in the 20th century we were giddy and confident in the knowledge that rational thinking would solve many of our ills. Science would provide an abundance of food and energy. Peace and prosperity were within reach. No accomplishment remained beyond the grasp of enlightened thought. Today, 100 years later, we face environmental deterioration, emerging infections, bioterrorism, and doubts about our earth’s ability to sustain us. We did not anticipate this transition from cocky certainty to disquieting uncertainty. Our views and our Western emphasis on science and progress may have led us to this state. Early theorists believed that in science lay the promise of certainty. Built on a foundation of fact and constructed with objective and trustworthy tools, science produced knowledge. But science has also shown us that this knowledge will always be fundamentally incomplete and that a true understanding of the world is ultimately beyond our grasp.”.
What is not beyond our grasp is that there is a power beyond us that we call God.
The final Parable of the Kingdom in Matthew (Matthew 13:47-53), points to the end of time. There’ll come a time when those who are judged to belong to the Kingdom and those who don’t will be separated from each other. But that’s something that none of us can or should attempt in relation to one another, as the earlier Parable of the Weeds indicates (Matthew 13:24-43).
So when will that end be? That, of course, we can’t know – fortunately! Quite a lot of Jesus’ teaching emphasises this point, but the one thing we do know is that our own end will come, whether we live to be 100 or have a much shorter life. And when it happens, it’ll be clear to God, if not to the rest of us, whether we’re fit for the Kingdom or another place, whether we’re for or against the will of God.
How can we make sure we’re right with God? By making sure that we say our prayers and get to Church regularly? I wouldn’t like to bet on it! Since we don’t know the hour or the day, the best way is to start living the Kingdom today and every day, to live, with Christ’s help, in the way that He showed us in His life and teaching. If we do that, we can trust in God, the uncertainty of the future will take care of itself and there’ll be no need to worry. That doesn’t mean we can duck all responsibility, caring for the planet and loving our neighbour are a big part of it.