Jesus makes it clear in the gospels that he doesn't want us to be unaware of the end times, as does Paul. But one must wonder what difference it is actually supposed to make in our lives. It is almost a given that at the conclusion of any "end times" broadcast the question will be asked, "Are you ready for the Lord to return?" Is this the reason we have been taught about the end times?
One is hard pressed to find anywhere in the bible that the gospel is preached with the inclusion of the "end times" prophecies. Generally, the gospel of the cross, burial and resurrection of our Lord is void of any pictographic language of the second coming. To be sure, the Lord is coming back! That is our hope. Our resurrection depends upon it. But the fear of the four horsemen is not how our Lord planned on reaching the lost. The gospel solves many immediate problems. Our sinful state. And the gospel is power for living holy, set apart, surrounded by sin. The gospel is our assurance of our daily bread, also our assurance of peace in a chaotic world. The assurance that the Lord is coming back is a great deal of that peace, but it is not the fear of the tribulation that brings peace, or brings anyone to Christ.
We need to know about the "end times" because there would be no bodily resurrection of the dead if the Lord didn't tell us he was coming back for us, bodily. That is part of our eternal security.
Does it change the way we live? No. We still serve our church, our families, our friends, and are the same ambassadors of Christ, whether he returns tonight, or 2012, or 3012. And the gospel is still the same gospel, God's plan is still the same plan. Just being a small part of it with those around us is awesome. And knowing he is coming back is knowing we will rise again.