The end of the story

EDITORIAL: God’s story has a beginning, middle and end

Photo: Getty Images

When our oldest daughter was a preschooler, she liked to “preach.” Her version of preaching was standing on a small bench and retelling the stories she heard in Sunday school. Sometimes one story would flow into the next and she’d just keep talking. As her parents, my husband and I enjoyed her narrations, but we realized that others would not be as taken with her “preaching” as we were. So, we regularly explained the importance of stories having a beginning, middle and end—especially an end.

Endings are important. The beginning of a story sets up the characters, problems and plot, the middle plays out the events set in place by the beginning and the ending brings it all to a close. One writer says a story without an ending is like a sporting match without a winner—a somewhat hollow and unfulfilling experience.

A good ending—to a book or movie, summer vacation or even a job—gives a sense of closure and resolution. Endings can offer hope, a time for reflection and an occasion for celebration. In some instances, a good ending makes a good beginning possible.

The crucial role of an ending is noted by N.T. Wright in his book, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection and the Mission of the Church. The Christian worldview, unlike a Stoic, Hindu or Buddhist worldview, has shape and balance because it is a “story with a beginning, a middle and an end,” Wright says. An important element of this ending is a belief in the second coming of Jesus. “If we don’t hold to the belief in the second coming of Jesus, we have not rounded out the whole kingdom of God theology,” Wright says.

While editing this issue of CL, I came across several books and articles addressing Christ’s second coming, including Wright’s. The various viewpoints in these resources, along with the different opinions presented by the feature articles you can read in this issue, confirm that we do not agree on eschatology. In fact, after reading the feature essays in this issue, one member of the CL Review Committee noted that none of the articles capture his view of Christ’s return. So, while the print and online feature articles represent the views of some Mennonite Brethren, they do not cover all of the views we hold.

We may not agree on the millennium, the rapture and how to read Revelation, but we agree on the most important truth: God wins. I like the way pastor and author Chuck Swindoll states this conviction: “If you like stories that end well, you’ll love Christianity. One of the great themes of our faith is triumphant hope—an unshakeable assurance that things will end right.”

Maybe you are like me and eschatology is not something about which you are particularly interested. Or maybe this is a topic about which you have thought, studied and discussed. Regardless, we know how the story ends—Christ will return and set things right.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here