When the World Didn’t End…

So I spent an inordinate amount of time yesterday fooling around on Twitter making up a fake playlist for the apocalypse/rapture.  It was a fun time to pass the time until the rapture didn’t happen.  A lot of people were making #myraptureplaylist compilations and also making #rapturedayconfessions.  It was very interestng to see social media fuel the buzz surrounding the irrationally bold proclamation of a preacher out in  California who claimed that the rapture was going to take place yesterday at 6pm and that it would be the start of the apocalypse, which would culminate in the end of the world in November or some time down the road.

There is a lot of religious division in this country, but I thought it was tremendous that basically the majority of Christians were able to laugh this guy off as someone that not even they take seriously, which is a good witness to the secular population in this country.  I hope that the fact that so many believers dismissed this man and his followers outright is an example to atheists, agnostics and nonbelivers that not all Christians are looney and so desperate to just believe in something that they’ll be taken in by someone so obviously out there.  I also hope that Christians use this as an opportunity, a teachable moment, not just something to brush off and dismiss or laugh at.

I love to have my fun and make jokes about ludicrous people and idiotic proclamations as much, if not more so than anyone else, but there is also a chance to use what this nutjob was talking about to explain what Christians really believe and why we believe.

Harold Camping is someone who is rightly deserving of derision and scrutiny for what he has said and claimed in the name of God.  Christians should be, and I believe, are at the forefront of dismissing anything this man has to say.  He led a lot of people astray who were willing to sell all of their possessions and totally buy into what this man was selling.  There are a lot of vulnerable people out there.  And as someone who is claiming to speak on behalf of God, it is especially shameful of him to lead people astray like he did.  It is an awesome responsibility and something that he abused.

This man originally claimed that the world would end in 1994, and even wrote a book about it.  Of course, when it didn’t happen in 1994, as he had predicted, he said he had made an error and revised his calculations to say it would happen in 2011.  The cynic in me, heck the rational believer in me, thinks he was probably just buying time to continue to manipulate people into giving him money to support his ministry and lifestyle, knowing that there were enough people out there who would continue to give him money, like a snake oil salesman.

So his revision gave the date of May 21, 2011 as the return of Jesus Christ to take away his Church from this world.  So if he was absolutely, completely serious about this, if he truly believed this, and if he wasn’t just interested in taking people’s money and manipulating them, then why would his organization need to file for an extension to file their nonprofit paperwork?  “The group is required to submit financial documents in many of the states where they solicit donations, and in Minnesota they requested an extension from their July 15 deadline to November 15.”

There are few things that fill me up with righteous indignation as much as preachers who are actually swindlers and manipulate people in the name of God.  Not only do they exploit the needy and the desperate believers who either aren’t smart enough or mature enough in their faith to see through their deceptions, but they also give Christians as a whole a bad name.  And Christians need to step up and do a better job of calling these people out for the frauds that they are.  We should not give them an audience and we should seek to counter them and show to our friends and neighbors what real Christianity is all about.

And it starts by acknowledging who Jesus Christ is and what he has done in our lives.  It doesn’t mean we have to be standing on street corners screaming at the top of our lungs that people are going to hell.  It doesn’t mean we are supposed to be bombing abortion clinics or calling the women who go into them “whores” and “baby killers.”  It doesn’t mean you hate people who have opposing political views than yours and seek to make sure that a godly people rule this nation.  It doesn’t mean fighting with fellow Christians about doctrinal beliefs that cause unnecessary division.

We make Christianity about so much more than it needs to be and should be.  It is first and foremost about Jesus Christ.  What do you believe about the man who lived some 2000 years ago.  It’s as simple as that.  And you proceed from there.  We make it far too complex.  I believe in God.  I believe Jesus was the Son of God, as he claimed to be.  I believe he died.  As crazy as it may sound, I believe he rose from the dead.  I believe that his death and resurrection was done for a reason because of human sin, which we all have.  Sin is one of those seemingly harsh words to non-Christians, and sometimes Christians do a poor job of expressing what we mean by it.  But everyone has sinned, or failed to always do the right thing.  I believe that through Jesus, God made a way for us to be right in his eyes.  I believe that Jesus ascended to heaven and will return someday (and the Bible says that no one but God knows when that will be).  I believe that as a Christian it is my job to share this with other people through my words and through my love for them and in the way I live.  That doesn’t mean that I won’t still continue to fail or fall from time to time or that I’ve got everything figured out.  But it does mean that I can be confident that I have a Creator who loves me, provides for me, and considers me his.

There is a lot more to it after that, but those are the essentials to me.  After that, the rest of the stuff is peripheral and secondary.  Don’t ever get hung up on the peripheral stuff.  Denominational differences are like bickering over shades of a color.  As important as you may think it is to know how salvation, sanctification, grace, or any other things to do with God work, at the end of the day, the important thing is that they do work.

Christians need to know what they believe and why they believe it fr moments like this past week.  The world is watching.  There are belivers who are deceived by people like Harold Camping, and then when they are let down by this cult of personality, they are left with confusion, despair, and maybe feeling like there is no hope.  Confusion, despair and loss of hope are not things that are associated with God.  God is not about those things.  Hopefully those people who were manipulated by this man and his organization will find real faith and have a firm foundation.

And I hope the world begins to see a different Church in the future.  One that is multi-dimensional and not defined by crazy people on the fringe making ridiculous pronouncements or harsh condemnations.  I hope they see Christians that are doing God’s work in this world.  Christians who are feeding the homeless.  Providing care for those in need.  That look after orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:26).  That don’t equate being a Christian with being a member of a political party.  That are willing to bridge the culture war.  That they’ll know we are Christians by our love.



One thought on “When the World Didn’t End…

  1. This particular article, “When the World Didnt End
    Hey, Where Do These Stairs Go?” was great. I’m impressing out a replica to clearly show my personal good friends.
    Thanks for the post-Belinda

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