BBC website - I am the 3,602,056,764th person alive of this planet.
Its been estimated (with some fanfare) that we now have 7 billion image-bearers of God on this dear earth (though the dear friends who tout the numbers usually do it in a more gloomy way).
Looking at my rank in the world - it would seem that just under half the world is older to me and the other half has been added since I was born. Sobering stuff to know that 3.5 odd souls are alive today
Among the many strong narratives that went on in the background of I had two which were apocalyptic.
The first was the great Malthusian dillema about our population increasing geometrically and food arithmetically. By the late 1970s all the food and oil etc were going to be used up.
Didn't quite happen.
We have added so many more people to this planet. But the standard line I heard growing up - we are poor in India because we have lots of people - isn't true at all. We are poor because our people do not have opportunities. Because of poor choices and bondages from within and without. Because laws serve the rich and crush the poor. And many other reasons - mostly to do with the stain of our rebellion against our good and loving Lord.
Food supplies actually increased over time. Though we do have lots more people. And numerically the poor are more than ever before - the overall increase in material well-being is undeniable.
The other apocalyptic event that was supposed to take place was the 2nd coming of Christ.
Some authors had figured it all out. EU was a 10 member conglomeration at that point. 10 horns on the beast. Various numbers were put into play. Various calculations and codes discovered. And then a date or two were proposed.
Hasn't happened yet. At least not in the way the literature that was floating around me in my 1970s boyhood seemed to predict.
So what do we make of the futurologists? What do we make of those who sift through the entrails of population numbers and cryptic bits of the book of Daniel?
I think that we are called to live humbly, to seek justice, and to enjoy the real presence of God Himself.
Just because some of the well-meaning predictions didn't quite end up the way they were pitched doesn't mean that the messengers should be shot.
I continue to be a closet environmentalist. Concerned about how we are tending the garden, how we are stewarding the resources that we have been entrusted. If anything - the aspirational and aquisitional materialism that is the new normal in our society has been fueling far more damage to our dear planet - than just the basic number of people per sq. km rubic.
A look at most of the 'western' world shows that having lots of people who are aging and want to be supported at high levels of comfort - and very few young people to work and produce - is a recipe for all kinds of problems. China's own strains from having fewer kids show themselves in other ways.
And as for Christ's return - even in the generation after His death and resurrection there were mumblings among His followers about the apparent delay. Addressing these comments the apostle Peter writes that: But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. (2 Peter3.8-9).
I trust - and try - to live each day as if it were my last. As if I am on the threshold of eternity (which we all are of course). To keep short accounts. To love and forgive. To make the most of what God has given me. To be ready for the joy of hearing 'well done, good and faithful servant.'
Will carry it through to completion
Until the day of Christ
So I'll work out my own salvation