There are some times when I have to confess that it is embarrassing to be an evangelical. This week could be one of those times. If you have not already heard, the Rapture is going to take place this Saturday, May 21st and for those that remain, the world will end on October 21st. This is according to Harold Camping, Family Radio and about 2000 billboards all over the country. It is on days like this that I wonder what part of Matthew 24:36,
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,[f] but only the Father.”
is unclear or open to other interpretations -seems pretty clear to me. Even worse is the means that Harold is predicting that the Rapture will take place – A Major Earthquake. After all that the people of Japan and Haiti have gone through, it’s too bad he could not have chosen some other means for this to take place like a meteor striking the earth or a volcano erupting somewhere (preferably not where a lot of people live). The media are going to have a field day this week and evangelicals are likely to look pretty foolish once again.
Now the reason that I think that evangelicals are going to look foolish this week is not entirely because of our “supposedly” overwhelming agreement with Harold, but because of the way that we normally handle these situations. First we deny that we have any connection to these types of beliefs and then we make sure that we confirm to the questioner that we think Harold is an idiot. Far to often we respond to embarrassment with anger, hostility and outright meanness (me included). The media can smell a good story from a mile away and having this much raw meat will certainly be a reason to pounce. I am praying that for once, we may respond with charity even if we really don’t like being lumped in with people predicting the end of the world.
What is also clear to me is that there are a lot of people thinking about Heaven, Hell and their own mortality. It may be a little confusing for some that Heaven is for Real and Love Wins are in the top 10 Christian Best Sellers nationally when they take very different points of view on the same subject. With all this talk of the world ending and our eternal destinies hanging in the balance, it seems to me like a time to really get into God’s word and see what He has to say about it all. I am pretty sure that the Bible has a lot to say about how we get to Heaven and why Heaven is going to be such a great place one day, a reason for hope and joy, while hell will be an awful place full of sadness and despair.
I wonder if the reason that we evangelicals are known for being so “wacky” in the world’s eyes is at least in part self inflicted? Wouldn’t it be great if we were known for correcting a brothers faults behind closed doors and standing as a united front against the evils of our world? Wouldn’t it be great if we were known as people that were not so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good? Wouldn’t it be great if we simply took the Bible at face value when it is clear about something and also embraced the reality that the Bible is not clear about every single issue we could want to know about (like the date of the rapture)? I for one am glad that God has spoken so clearly through His written word, but I also accept that we only see through a glass darkly. Apparently God appreciates a little mystery Himself and will only reveal all things in the fullness of time as the Bible says.
This week I am going to choose to pray for Harold and not to attack (as much as I might be tempted to). If we are all here next week this time, I hope that we will realize that God must have more for us to do because He is coming back one day, he really is – the Bible says so and I believe it.