“It’s the end of the world as we know it.
It’s the end of the world as we know it.
It’s the end of the world as we know it … and I feel fine.”
Those are the lyrics of R.E.M.’s 1987 hit song titled ‘It’s the end of the worlds as we know it (and I feel fine).’ I have been singing this song since yesterday but really cannot get it out of my head at all today…I wonder why?
I have been told today is the end……
but I feel fine!
The great soothsayer Harold Camping has calculated the day for the beginning of the end to be today at 6 pm local time. The local tome thing was a mistake, if you ask me. You see at the time of writing this it is already 6 pm in New Zealand, and I checked on line and there are no signs of the beginning of the end there today. I think that telling people in Christchurch to get ready for an earthquake at 6 pm was a little unkind myself considering what they have suffered through.
So it is past 6 pm local time on May 21st in many regions of the world, and the rolling earthquakes have not begun. What has begun is the laughing. Atheists around the globe have had a great chuckle at Christians and have pointed out how silly we are. Mr. Camping’s publicity campaign has lowered the level of intellectual conversation about God and what we believe about God. Instead of spending his considerable resources mobilizing people do feed the hungry, cloth the naked, visit the lonely, or give drink to the thirsty, Mr. Camping used is money and influence to encourage people to quit their jobs and journey the plant warning those of who are considered ‘heathen’ to get our act together for this ‘rapture.’ What it has netted him is a wider audience, more listeners on his radio station and subsequently more advertizing and of course more profit! How many people have offered him everything they have for this campaign because they believe that this is the end?
Jesus encouraged the people of God to embrace a new and risky way of living. It was summed up in what he called ‘the kingdom of God.’ It was a place where the weak and the vulnerable have primacy. It is a place where service is valued over power. It is a place where divisions are erased. It is a place where old models of living are replaced with new ones that seek to destroy the chains of oppression and bondage. The kingdom is a place where all of God’s children are given worth and value and none are cast aside. It is a place where forgiveness is offered without hesitation and love is the anthem of the redeemed. I want a place in that kingdom. But I don’t believe that I need to wait to see it and I don’t believe that Jesus taught that either – quite the opposite. What Jesus of Nazareth proclaimed was a covenantal way of living that should be embraced now. It is a message whose time has come. It is time that we seek to seek Christ in the weak, the lonely, and the oppressed. It is time that we embrace what Henri Nouwen called downward mobility. The time has arrived for us to seek service over power. The people of God are a people of the towel and not of the sword.
Perhaps those who do not believe might take us more seriously if we lived as Jesus calls us to live. In other words, rather than focussing on apocalyptic, fear driven predictions about the end, we should focus on beginning a new relationship with God that wall call us to loving service to one another. Instead of having people using their time, talent and treasure to warn people of impending doom, we need to be using our time, talent, and treasure to bind up those who are hurting, feed those who are hungering, bring peace to those who are warring, and be the people of love and forgiveness that Jesus calls us to be. As Ghandi once famously said, “Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” The circus that is Harold Camping and his doomsday predictions that are ‘guaranteed by the Bible,’ are the very displays of domination and abuse of power that Jesus pushed back against, so should we. This is not who we are.
Let us strive together to be Christians who resemble our Christ.