I grew up in a Christian setting influenced by the belief that the world would become worse and worse, then the Antichrist would come, God would judge- with the belief that the church is gone in all of this through the rapture (now I believe the church is present through that time of tribulation)- and then Jesus would return to set up the Millennial Kingdom.
I now hold to a more complicated view. The light in Jesus becomes brighter through the church, and this shows sin all the more for what it is. The Spirit of God being at work through the church, and perhaps in some way, in other ways throughout the world in reaching out to people. But God being at work in the new creation already present in Jesus, but not yet completed.
In that I see potential for the world to be better at certain times and places, maybe even overall with exceptions to that rule, but the need for final judgment against those opposed to God and God's will, as some in their quest for power continue to wreak havoc on people and on God's creation. As well, the need for both the redemption of Jesus accomplished at the cross and it fruit or result in the resurrection, to be completed in the reconciliation of all things to God and in that, the renewing, or new creation in Jesus.
This has to be worked out more in my theological thinking, but this is kind of where I'm at now, in a few as well as hurried words.
I wonder if any of you out there has any thoughts on this in reference to how you may have it worked out. Or anything to add.