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How to prepare for the end of the world

Ryan Denison is the Senior Fellow for Theology at Denison Forum, where he contributes writing and research to many of the ministry’s productions.

He is in the final stages of earning his PhD in church history at BH Carroll Theological Institute after having earned his MDiv at Truett Seminary. Ryan has also taught at BH Carroll and Dallas Baptist University.

He and his wife, Candice, live in East Texas and have two children.

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Gunners of 26 Squadron (Sqn) Royal Air Force (RAF) Regiment based at RAF Honington wearing the GSR10 gas mask during an exercise, February 9, 2011 (Credit: UK Ministry of Defence/Cpl Dylan Bob Browne via Flickr)

A recent article in The Week by Rod O’Connor titled “Preppers: Meet the paranoid Americans awaiting the apocalypse” examines the growing trend of seemingly average people that are going to great lengths in order to be ready for the fall of society. Many preppers, or survivalists as they’re also called, operate under the belief that the world as we know it could end “any day now in the form of a global pandemic or the implosion of our highly leveraged financial system.” As one prepper put it, “All of a sudden, you have hyperinflation, and you’ll need a wagon of cash for a loaf of bread…Society could crumble in three days. That’s all it would take. Then it’s going to get primal.”

Such statements may seem extreme and, no doubt, mental images of gun toting, fortress dwelling people in the middle of nowhere often accompany such views. The National Geographic Channel certainly perpetuated that image with their Doomsday Preppers show that enjoyed four relatively popular seasons before being cancelled last year. Such extremists undoubtedly made for good television but many modern preppers fail to match that stereotype.

Bob Valenti, a false name given to protect the real identity of one such prepper interviewed by O’Connor, characterizes most in the new wave of survivalists. O’Connor describes him as a “40-something father of two [who] has a couple of advanced degrees and a high paying job at a high-flying technology company. He has an aggressive retirement plan and plenty socked away in college funds for his kids.” Essentially, he’s a successful, normal American who simply feels like preparing for the potential end of society is a logical addition to one’s life goals.

As another person O’Connor interviewed said of his prepping, “As soon as the power goes out, I don’t pull out the supplies. I like to think I have a firm enough grasp on reality that I am comfortable with my level [of prepping]. For me, it’s a hobby I hope I never have to use. A lot of people have figurines on glass shelves that they display. I’m collecting peace of mind.”

While such efforts may still seem strange to most of us, there is something to be said for the forward thinking manner in which these preppers approach their lives. They do not take their future for granted and want to be prepared for a world they hope to never actually see.

God has made our future quite clear. Whether Jesus returns in our life time or not, we will all stand before his judgment seat one day and be held accountable for the way we lived in this life (2 Corinthians 5:10). What are you doing to prepare for that day?

One of Jesus’ most consistently emphasized messages throughout his ministry was the need to live every day ready for it to be your last. As Jesus told his disciples, “concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come” (Mark 13:32-33).

So, as Paul told the Colossians, prepare for that day by remembering that “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are of this earth” (Col. 3:1-2). When our focus is on God and living a life that honors him according to his will, we will be prepared for the day that we see him again.  

C.S. Lewis once said “Aim at heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’: aim at Earth and you will get neither.” What are you aiming at today?

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