Ok, no I've not been in a cellar . . . we don't have one anyway. May 21st came and passed just as May 20th did and every day before then. Unless you have been in your cellar for most of the last few years, you know that a retired preacher and radio entrepreneur made a bold prophecy that Jesus would return and rapture the church on Saturday, May 21st at 6 PM. Judgment day would start almost immediately after.
I hesitated to even blog about this because to me it's ridiculous. It's also been talked about over and over. Most preachers, including myself, preached a message this past Sunday on the rapture reminding everyone that Jesus stated in Matthew that no one knows the day or the hour and therefore no one can pop up and claim to know when Christ will return. We've heard it. We've seen it. So I won't waste your time telling you something you've probably already heard. Instead I'll attempt to talk about a few things that has been reinforced to me in the wake of this debacle and if you've already heard these things, it can't be any worse than making a faulty prophecy and having to hide in a motel room . . .
First, let's state the obvious. The rapture is going to happen. The only way we won't go in the rapture is to leave this world by way of death. Either way, life as we know it on this earth will one day end for you and me. It does every day, every hour, every minute for someone. I've talked with a few people who even though they said they didn't believe the rapture would take place at 6 PM last Saturday, they did find themselves living "better" just in case . . . The reality is that death and eternity are usually uncomfortable subjects for us to talk about. Even for people who know that they know that they know where they stand with God, the thought of eternity without God and being tormented in a devil's hell will send shivers up their spines. And honestly speaking, as much as I'm ready to see Jesus face to face, I'm not looking forward to death. I've got too much to live for to die right now. Nevertheless, this is part of life. In the wake of yet another failed prediction, let's be careful to not become "mockers" and "scoffers" as the Bible predicts in 2 Peter 3:3-14. Surely there are many who look at Christianity now and make fun even though Mr. Camping's prediction didn't represent a majority of Christians around the globe. And we must be careful too. For as sure as the prediction proved to be wrong, Christ could have returned at 6:30 PM. Would you have been ready? Would I have been ready? Peter tells us to always be ready and to live in such a way that we know that Christ may return at any minute and that our life could be required of us at any moment. Make no mistakes about it. Jesus is coming back. The only question is will you be ready?
Second, let me pull out my soap box. The church age that we live in today is probably one of the single most reasons more people don't want to be Christians. It's so far removed from the Bible. Where else can a man still be considered a prophet after missing two prophecies? In the Bible a prophet that "missed God" could be stoned. I wonder if that was still in place, would it curb the ever so popular, "I felt led of the Lord" or "God told me" or "God spoke to me"? Somehow I doubt it. We've taken some creative licenses with God's name for the purpose of manipulating people, pushing an agenda, and hiding our own insecurities. While we're at it . . . what about all the in fighting between churches? People in a "quest for truth" make enemies out of people who don't agree with them. I seem to remember Jesus correcting the disciples when they decided to get on an elitist kick. After the disciples started seeing other people pray and do miracles under the authority of the name of Jesus, they started complaining. Jesus simply responded, "Those that are not against us are for us." While those working in the name of Jesus were not part of Jesus' inner group, Jesus had no interest in rebuking them for doing ministry. That's a far cry from today. I can't turn on the TV, listen to the radio, or even look at regular people's facebook posts without seeing "born again, Spirit-filled" Christians blast all the hypocrites sitting in their churches who don't shout like they do or believe like they do or act as they do. Seriously? Get over yourself. While you're bashing everyone, what if we came over to your house and started shining a light on your integrity at home? Let him without sin throw the first stone . . .
Lastly, in light of the missed judgment day prophecy but the still relevant and actual Biblical mandate and assurance of Christ's return, let's look at us. Let's look in the mirror at the selfish people we really can be if we're not careful. Let's see how many times God has "spoken" to us about someone else, but not about ourselves. Let's be honest in our motives and true in our hearts. I overheard one preacher on an elitist kick mention that 85% of all people sitting in churches (the stat was pointed at Pentecostals) were not really saved. I'd like to know where that stat came from. Where was the poll done? Did this individual travel to the thousands of churches and get a clear discernment on each individual? Of course the stat was answered with a loud and sickening "AMEN!" I heard another stat that 50% of all Pentecostal churches aren't real. Again, where is this from? How about this stat from me . . . and I can back it up easily . . . 100% of all preachers and people who lie and make up stats and rationales to support faulty logic and spawn manipulation will go to hell for lying should they not repent. That's a stat you can take to the bank.
If Jesus is coming back, and soon at that, we've got to take inventory of our lives. When we bend and manipulate black and white, plain as day scriptural principles for our own benefit while ignoring the many others we're breaking and still call ourselves Christian and led by the Lord, we are not only deceiving ourselves, but we are tarnishing the name of Christ and His church. If you're addicted to something, don't tell me how I need to be free. If you're non-committal to the house of God, don't lecture me on my time commitments. I'm convinced that hypocrisy is the single leading cause of atheism. None of us are perfect. We're all going to make mistakes. The key is not whether you've made a mistake. The key is whether you've recognized it and got back up and learned from it. We must love one another as we love ourselves. But we also remember not to pit the love of God against the holiness of God. God is both love and holiness and you can't have one without the other.
Mr. Camping has decided that only a spiritual return took place May 21st and the real rapture will take place in October. Some people will never learn. Jesus is coming and Mr. Camping doesn't know when. The Mayans don't know when. Nobody anywhere knows when. Only the Father does. The Father who knows the date and the time is also the Father who sees you and me inwardly and outwardly. He knows who we are. He knows the intents of our heart. He knows the condition of our souls. And with that, may we live holy and blameless unto Him, loving one another, pushing one another onward in this journey, winning souls, making disciples, leading others into surrender to the Spirit of God, and trusting in the infallible Word of God. May we learn to partner with one another to fulfill the Great Commission. May we learn to see others the way Christ sees them.