Friday, May 20, 2011
Less than rapturous thoughts
I have very mixed feelings regarding any discussion of the Rapture (in case you've been living under a rock, I'm referring here to the concept of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture, an event which a small number of Christians believe will cause the righteous and faithful believers to be caught up to meet Jesus, while the sinners remain behind to experience the terrors associated with the end of the world). On the one hand, I believe all such talk of this event is meaningless, having no basis in what Jesus himself had to say about the manner of his return. I also have to wonder about the pride issues of any group that declares itself already saved and ready to be Raptured, when that decision is one best left to God. On the other hand, as you've probably gleaned from a few entries in this blog, I am a Christian and as such do believe that one day Christ will return. So if I don't think the Rapture is going to happen tomorrow, why should I care what some fringe group says on the subject?
Maybe because I've noticed what false prophesies like this do to the already-battered reputation of all Christians, not just the ones who believe in this prediction. The skeptics who already hold a dim view of Christianity will take this occasion to savage all Christians in the media. Christians with tenuous faith who were hanging on just to see this day will likely falter and fall away from their faith because of this non-event. Christian groups who proselyte to others will also receive a black eye from this incident. And those people who might have spent their brief time on Earth striving to become better people and preparing to meet God may be convinced to put off just a little longer doing what they should do today, to live for the moment rather than focus on the larger picture. And that would truly be a tragedy. In fact, no one benefits from this Rapture prophecy (with the possible exception of stand-up comics, who are already having a field day with it).
My mother always taught us that it doesn't really matter when Christ will come again. The most important thing is to live your life -- to behave in all your dealings with others -- as though Christ could come back at any time. That seems to me to be excellent advice, even on days when I struggle to follow it.