Over the last week I watched as several people mocked and joked about the predicted rapture of the church. Sunday morning as I awoke, I wondered if we (the Church) had missed an opportunity to invite others to church or to share with them the love of God and Truth of His Word. Would there be more people in church on Sunday seeking the Truth, or would the church be full of “spiritual giants” who had proclaimed that no man knows the day or the hour (but they knew it wasn’t Saturday), but didn’t reach out to another to explain the Truth?
Harold Camping did make a statement last night saying the May 21st was a spiritual return of Jesus, and that the date of October 21st still stands. He acknowledged that he made an error – but he will not be forgiven. He will be an outcast to many. Even now the mocking and joking has begun of this “new date” (which isn’t new, it was mentioned in his May 21st prediction). It is human nature to mock what we don’t understand and also to err. Will we afford the same think that we would expect when we err?
I know that his actions may have led people away from God and for that he will have to face God. His credibility regarding spiritual things should probably be questioned and he will need to rebuild trust. However I believe there is a spiritual lesson in everything and here are some things I think we should learn from the May 21st prediction:
1) Some people are easily persuaded – Harold Camping laid out a convincing “argument” for the May 21st date, and I believe he honestly believed the rapture would occur then. Even some who may have looked at his explanation may have read the verses referenced and believed as well.
2) People do not read/study the Bible. Many rely on church leaders to share and explain spiritual Truths. – Consequently as church leaders, we need to be sure we are speaking Truth. We are held to a high standard.
3) Should Christians be joking about the rapture? While we may not agree with the prediction, it should be used to draw people to God, not join the joking which can make Christianity seem irrelevant and a joke in general.
4) The world will not understand. They do not take God, or Jesus, seriously and so “religion” becomes a joke, or something the weak need to get by. Unfortunately, the followers of Harold Camping who purchased billboards, sold everything, etc help to solidify that perception.
5) People are human and make errors. We seem to have forgotten this with Harold Camping. Did you think to pray for him the week or so before May 21st? How about now? I have to admit, that I did not until I began writing this post.
So the question now becomes how do we handle it when people question about the incorrect prediction of May 21st. Do we join the joking or share that we believe that Jesus will return (and why) but that we don’t know when?
I would be amiss if I didn’t say that we can find humor in this which is not mocking , or joking about the event (or non-event). As I left work Friday, having discussed the “judgement day prediction”, I mentioned that I may see them Monday, fully intending on being at work at 6 am Monday. I even mentioned that maybe I would just take the day off and not call in. Anyway, Sunday night I received a phone call that the contractor could do my driveway expansion Monday which caused me to be later to work than I normally would be on Monday. I did send an e-mail so they would know I would be late and why, but as they arrived and I was not there (they hadn’t checked e-mail yet), it sparked conversation about the rapture. An opportunity to share the Gospel :-), but also a good laugh.
So how will we handle the talk as we approach the October 21st date? Will we take it as an opportunity to share the Truth about Jesus? join in the joke that some call “Christianity”? or be obliviously to it all together?
How will you handle it with the children in your ministry?