Any Weekend Travel Plans?

Many of you are no doubt aware that according to some, the world is going to end this coming Saturday May 21, 2011 at about 6:00pm.  

This has been the cause of no little discussion, as well as the focus of some frankly hilarious business ventures.   It was reading the latter article that surprisingly brought me up short and led me to reflect for a few minutes on this whole thing.  I’ve known about the prediction for months, yet it doesn’t really enter my consciousness at all until I read a halfway tongue-in-cheek article over it.  This is supposed to be at the core of my faith – that Jesus Christ will return again in judgment.  Shouldn’t this be a slightly greater cause for reflection?
First off, I think that the guy pushing this claim is not very believable.  Deuteronomy 18:21-22 seems instructive here.  How do you know whether someone is speaking authoritatively on behalf of God?  What that person says comes true.  Harold Camping originally asserted the rapture (itself a very sketchy concept) would take place almost 20 years ago in 1994.  But this time he’s really certain.  I remain unconvinced.  And because I tend to consider anyone who claims to make an authoritative prediction about the return of Jesus Christ or the rapture to be a bit of a nut-case, this weekend hasn’t figured in my thoughts at all over the past few months.  
But I have to admit that the Second Coming doesn’t fit much into my average day.  And that has caused me a little bit of concern in the past few days.  After all, Mark 13 exhorts us to be ready, to be prepared for Jesus’ return, to not be caught by surprise.  Does this mean I need to be thinking about it constantly?  No, I don’t think it does.  But I suspect I should think about it a bit more consciously and regularly than I tend to.
On being ready, this is critical.  But what does it mean?  The first followers of Jesus in those dizzying post-Resurrection days and weeks clearly thought his return was imminent and they were willing to sell property and do other very tangible things as part of their faith in that.  Some people are doing that in preparation for this weekend.  I can fault them for their gullibility on the date prediction, but if that’s what they firmly believe, I can’t fault them for their seriousness in preparing for it.  
I don’t think that Jesus was talking about being ready in terms of eliminating your assets.  But I do believe that He was very serious in that we ought to be living our lives in such a way that when Jesus returns, we aren’t going to be caught in the midst of something sinful.  In other words, New Testament exhortations to holy living are a means of preparing ourselves for his return.  His return should not be the main motivating factor in living the way God intended for people to live, but it is one aspect of it.    I ought to be living the way God commands because it’s the best way to live, not because I’m afraid of being caught by surprise with Jesus’ return.
That Jesus will return should be a source of hope and joy, not a source of fear and dread.  Obeying the law out of fear or obligation demonstrates a certain lack of spiritual maturity.  As God’s people we are not to live in fear (Romans 8:15; 2 Timothy 1:6-7).  If I’m living my life in accordance with the way God created me to live (as defined by his Word, not my particular wishes or ideas), then I’m prepared for Jesus’ return, whenever that might be.  Whether it’s this Saturday, or July 15, or December 3, or 2012, or 2050, or whenever.  I don’t need to worry.  If I’m worried for myself, I’m fundamentally misunderstanding the Gospel.  I might be worried for other people, but not for me.  
I don’t want to obsess over Jesus’ return.  I don’t know when it’s going to be, and I’m fairly certain that nobody else will know either.  But I don’t want to forget about his return either.  I believe that I ought to live my life with the understanding that this is transitory.  I have obligations to meet professionally as well as a father and husband.  I need to take these responsibilities seriously, rather than refusing to deal with them because I know the end is near.  In many ways, it’s precisely because the end is near that I need to take them so seriously.  My belief in an actual Savior and Lord dictates that my life is not lived exclusively on my terms, and the more often I remember this and live it out, the better.  
That being said, I’m not sure that even if I believed the rapture was happening this weekend that I would be compelled to sell off property or quit my job.  These actions aren’t going to affect the rapture or Christ’s return.  Are they efforts to convince others and sway them to repent?  Perhaps.  Though I’m wagering that they aren’t overly effective in that area, even if they do generate good press coverage.    
So I’ll go ahead and write a sermon for Sunday morning.  And I hope y’all will be in Church the next morning as well.  it will still be a great opportunity to give praise to our Risen Lord and Savior, and to proclaim again that He will come again in glory to judge both the living  and the dead.

2 Responses to “Any Weekend Travel Plans?”

  1. Ralph Shade Says:

    Ok, it’s three days on from this post and already the skeptics are saying that it’s a bust since we’re well past 6:00 PM in many parts of the world. However, we’re taking no chances – I’m going to barbecue country style ribs and the family wants dinner to be ready at 5:00 just in case :) Our daughter doesn’t like pork and is even less concerned about the event actually taking place. She’s planning to go to a post rapture party this evening…

  2. Paul Nelson Says:

    I didn’t make any special plans for this evening of this week.  Either that’s  a comment on the utter lack of excitement in my life, or a strong testimony to my confidence that this was going to be a bust.  Or neither, I suppose.

    As much as Camping deserves the ridicule (and he’s getting it in spades), I think I’d feel a little happier if more Christians gave at least some tangible thought to the Second Coming.  And that includes me!

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