You’ve probably seen the billboards or TV ads or internet ads or maybe you’ve seen their street preachers passing out flyers and whatnot about May 21st, 2011. If not, then you should know that this Saturday is the day when the world is supposed to end and Jesus Christ will return to bring judgment and condemnation on the earth. At least, that’s what Harold Camping has predicted.
Normally I poke fun at predictions like this. I personally deem it impossible for us to truly know when “the end” will come or how it will arrive. But I do know that Jesus didn’t know. And if He didn’t know, then how could any of us? Not only that, why should we know when He’s coming back and not Him? In fact, Jesus explicitly says that no one knows except the father (Mark 13:32). He goes a step further in Acts to say that we aren’t supposed to; “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority,” (1:7). And while I’d like to bash this belief about Saturday completely, I think Sunday morning will speak for itself.
And devastate the faiths of many.
What do I mean? Harold Camping and his fellow campers (those who believe his prediction) are going to have their worlds rocked when the sun rises on May 22nd. Everything that their beliefs were founded upon will be torn apart and ripped to pieces. Like many who were raised by fundamentalists and yet felt cheated later in life after discovering the “truth,” these believers might not know how to function Sunday morning – or they’ll continue believing in Harold Camper’s words and think that they apparently weren’t good enough and were subsequently “left behind.” No matter what happens, these believers will probably feel terrible about themselves and their beliefs Sunday morning.
But what if it happens?
Good question – in fact, that’s the question I’ve had in my mind these past couple of days. What if Jesus does return to bring His judgment upon the earth? The very next question I immediately think of is: Am I truly ready to stand before Him? Have I run this race of faith as well as I possibly could or have I been really good at carrying the image or façade of it all? When Jesus looks at my track record – even if He isn’t going to pour out His wrath on me (whatever that means) – is He going to say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”?
Herein lies the one benefit I’ve found from this Judgment Day belief about May 21st: On some level, it compels one to reevaluate their life to see whether it has been Christ-like or not. No, I’m not going to subscribe to the “Camper” theology about this Saturday; but I have done some thinking about how I’ve been living. And honestly, I haven’t been doing well.
I’ve cursed. I’ve slandered. I’ve wasted time on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, YouTube, or just the internet in general. I’ve wasted time watching countless hours of TV. I’m glad I don’t have a TV in my room otherwise there’d be even more time wasted playing Tiger Woods ’04. I’ve lusted after women who aren’t my wife (not married, so really any sexual urges about any woman is wrong). And I’ve simply disregarded the work God has called me to do: Write like crazy; invest in relationships; and be vocally honest about myself.
If Jesus does return Saturday at 6pm, I don’t think I’ll be standing to face Him.
And yet here’s another problem I have with the “Camper” theology; it gives strong guilt-trips to all subscribers – at least, indirectly. Repentance isn’t self-deprecation; it’s feeling a God-given conviction that leads one to change, to spiritually turn around, and follow after the Way of Jesus. It’s not beating yourself up for all the sins you’ve committed in your entire lifetime; it’s accepting that you’re wayward and in need of correction. And what the cross of Christ offers isn’t simply a “get out of jail free” card; it’s the opportunity to truly make that turn-around of repentance.
I will never subscribe to a belief like Camping’s, but I’m compelled to engage this life that I’ve been given a little more intentionally. I don’t know if there’s a chance to turn around after I die, but I know that this life does matter. Sunday morning will be different for a lot of Camping followers, but I think it should be a check point for all Christ followers. In all probability, Saturday night will come and go just like any other night. But perhaps we should take the time to reflect. Perhaps, if we haven’t already, we should turn around.
***I could write a lot more, but I think this blog sums up this Saturday.