Luke 12:48 -
"From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked"
A few weeks ago, driving home from the airport in Jacksonville (FL) I saw a billboard that displayed the message: “Judgment Day May 21”, “The Bible Guarantee’s it.” I had heard about these signs for sometime from a friend of mine on Facebook but this was the first time I had see one in person. I’m a pastor. I read the Bible. Had I missed something?
Fortunately for everyone, global society has already averted one Judgment Day this year. Apparently Sarah and John Connor were able to stop Skynet from going online before April 21, 2011. Whew! At least we’re safe from the robots for now! But with less than a month to plan for the latest impending judgment I wanted to be prepared.
So I looked into this coming Judgment day a bit. Apparently this guy named Harold Camping who heads up Family Radio is behind the marketing bonanza that is Judgment Day May 2011. His signs literally litter the country with proclamation of what he says the Bible says will happen. As it turns out, Camping is actually old hat at doomsday predictions because in 1994 he predicted Judgment Day in September of that year. I guess if you don’t play you can’t win – but it seems like there have been a lot of doomsday predictions in my lifetime.
In 1982 Pat Robertson told the 700 Club audience that “I guarantee you by the end of 1982 there is going to be a judgment on the world.” In 1997 the San Diego UFO cult named Heaven’s Gate claimed that an alien spacecraft was following the Hale-Bopp comet. Tragically, 39 members of that group took their own lives never to see their expectation fulfilled. In 1999, Nostradamus struck out as his July prediction failed to hit the mark. In 2000, author Richard Noone predicted that the planets would align in our solar system to somehow cause an Antarctic ice mass three miles thick to overwhelm the earth and us in the process. Predicted date? Cinco de Mayo – I guess we should thank global warming for our survival. Oh yeah and Y2K didn’t get us either – but it sure did produce a lot of cool underground bunker construction. Good for the economy I guess? In 2008 “God’s Church” minister Ronald Weinland predicted that it would all come to and end as well. Yet we’re still here. So now it’s Camping’s turn and there are some Mayan descendents that have their bets firmly placed against him.
All of this Judgment Day/End Times/Doomsday talk started me wondering if maybe there is some deep underpinning reason that people are programmed to be pessimistic about their current temporal lives. Maybe individuals just need ways to artistically express the fears that they have about their mortality. I get that. As someone who believes that there will be some continuation of life after this one I think that there might be something valuable in such an expression. The danger of course is when such ideas get transformed into action and the action turns tragic.
How might it be that we can learn to think and act in ways that express our fears about our mortality yet don’t compromise our safety or induce erratic, potentially harmful behavior? Or better yet, how do we find ways to act erratically that promote creativity but don’t endanger one another? This is where thinking about it all “ending tomorrow” might be helpful for us to focus on the things that matter in this world – our relationships with one another.
I too have an end-time prediction for you. It’s one that has been proven 100% accurate to date – everyone dies. So will you. That could happen today or many years from now. But, maybe instead of worrying about that fact so much we should commit to things that actually matter like loving God, loving one another and enjoying the time that we have in meaningful ways. Then, even if May 21, 2011 or December 21st 2012 prove to be the actual end of the world – we will have focused on what is important all along.