Amillennialism, Premillennialism, Post-millennialism, and Stupidism
Honestly, I've not run into too many people who hold strong feelings about eschatology (last days theology). In the 70s and 80s people debated this stuff to the point of nausea. People sliced and diced prophecies, the book of Revelation, and even each other over the Second Coming of Christ. Jesus said no one would know when he would return, except the Father. Could this be a veiled warning not to get too caught up with his second coming, eschatology, or even theology? Was this an indirect correction to focus on more important things like the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20)?
I've come to the conclusion that it will all pan out in the end. Jesus will return no matter what stupid, eschatological position one holds. I say stupid because it's our extreme views or non-views that at times keeps us back from really doing the work of God. Many have made the Second Coming the defining motivation for how they do ministry.
Yes, it motivates and encourages to know Jesus will return some day. It's our hope. It's not wrong. It provides some level of accountability. However, he hasn't returned yet. There is still a lot of work to do. Miles to go before we sleep. No time to stop before a forest on a cold and snowy evening, or in our case, a white sandy beach. Whatever the case, people are caught up in the clouds when they need to be on earth.
For instance, if you are Pre-Mill, then you are most likely Dispensationalist and expect the world to get darker and more evil until the rapture (believers being transported to heaven before the tribulation). Their proof texts are Noah and his family being saved from the flood, the Israelites being delivered from Egypt, and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18. There are other biblical passages, but the focus is God delivering his people from impending doom. So how would you conduct ministry with this type of view point? How would you live?
Many have taken a bunker mentality. They have gotten their personal lives in order and are waiting to be raptured. They look at the news and say to themselves, "See, the world is getting darker and more evil! The sky is falling!" The problem with this chicken-little view is that it produces an ambivalent attitude toward reaching the world with the love of God. "It's all going to burn up anyway" many would say.
Then there are the A-Mills who believe the saints are already experiencing the Millenium (the thousand year reign of Christ) in heaven. Jesus said a day was like a thousand years or a thousand years like a day; thus, rendering the numbers more symbolic than real. With this view, believers in heaven have been living in the Millenium for two thousand years and counting. "If people are already experiencing the Millenium than there is really nothing to look forward to on this earth. Let it go to pot. God will clean it up when he finally returns to establish the new heavens and new earth." Actually, A-Mill means no Millenium and no rapture. They have taken a a very strong sovereignty position when it comes to the initiatives of man and God. God will save the world despite what we do (Romans 9:16). As you can see, extreme A-Mills have also taken a bunker mentality when it comes to reaching the lost with the Gospel.
Then you got the Post-Mills who believe the world will get more and more Christianized until the Second Coming of Christ. "We are called to bring the Millenium reign of Christ to earth! We will hasten the second coming of Christ!" It's a very optimistic view of the world. It's a very responsibility centered view. It's also a very man-centered view that gives us much of the responsibility to bring heaven to earth. The Christians are like yeast that will leaven the whole world little by little until we become completely holy and pure. "Things are getting better and better" they say. This view was predominant before WWI, but the carnage and blood of trench warfare infused cynicism into the hearts and minds of the church. WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Same-sex Marriage, the rise of radical Islam, and other evils didn't help the Post-mill cause either. The tribulation of the Book of Revelation, and Jesus saying many will fall away, also puts a crimp into this positive outlook. What about Jesus' other words in Matthew 7:13-14 that talk about only a few finding the path to life? Whatever the case, society, as a whole, has gotten worse. Post-Mill theology and reality don't really connect.
I personally lean toward the Post-Mill position because it calls us to be proactive and to make a difference in this world. The problem with this position, however, is the big elephant in the living room: no complete restoration until Jesus returns. Evil will still run rampant in society until Satan and the Antichrist are thrown into the lake of fire. Should this stop us from sharing the Gospel and making a difference in this world? No. Are we not to obey despite what's happening in the world? Yes. Will we still see small pockets or big swaths of society turn to God? Yes. The gates of hell will not stand up against the church of Jesus Christ. However, is God's victory predicated upon the whole world turning to Jesus? No. Our job is to preach the Gospel to the world and nations. It's God job to save. It's man's responsibility to believe. People still have a choice to believe or not believe.
However, the focus is God and not us (1 Cor 3:6). We are called to obey and rejoice in God's triumphal outcome. God causes growth. He causes growth that will last. We ride his wave. His kingdom will come despite what man does.
Then you have the Stupid-Mill people who could care less about any theology or the Great Commission. They haphazardly go through the Christian life picking and choosing what they want to believe in, and hopefully, just hopefully, they will be alright when they see Jesus face to face. They are the ones who live distracted, worried, worldly-centered lives, and dwell in the realm of "It's okay to sin because God will forgive me anyway. God is love. God will understand. I attend church every week." Actually, they are the fools that Jesus talks about in Matthew 25:1-13. They will not be ready. Their oil lamps not filled. The lamp of character cannot be filled by a gas pump. It takes time.
Actually, if you are either A-Mill, Pre-Mil, Post -Mill, or a mixture of the three, then it is okay. Why? If you care enough to think about Scripture and come to a position, then you care enough about your walk with God. I would just add one more thing to your view: The Great Commission. Isn't it about obedience anyway? All the positions are Biblical; they all speak some truth; they all believe Jesus will return. We are still called to bring the Gospel to the nations (Matthew 28:18-20). That never changes no matter what end-time theological view we have. We must obey the last command of Jesus no matter what the earth or society looks like. Parting words from the creator of the universe does carry some weight. Don't you think? The worst position is being the run-of-the-mill, comfort loving, Stupid-Mill person, who smiles at every message from God, but never thinks and obeys. That would be bad. That would be really bad.
My friends, hearing and obeying is key at this time. A real personal relationship with God is key. Being awake spiritually is key. I guess the best position to have if you really want to have one is this: Jesus. Everything will flow into Him one day. He will cause all things to work together for good.