Got Plans for Sunday?

I’m tempted to simply ignore the onslaught of information regarding Harold Camping’s prediction that the world’s end will be this Saturday. Unfortunately there’s a large contingent of people who won’t let me. Over the past week I’ve had staff and patients at my office broach the subject with every possible emotion ranging from anger to laughter.

The unfortunate reality is that many of the claims made by Camping are indeed found in scripture. Of course most everything he proclaims as truth has clearly been taken out of context. I’m not sure about you, but I find it most difficult to engage those who bring up the topic with a balance of affirmation for the clear warnings in scripture while rebuking the lunacy of apocalyptic countdowns.

The sad fact remains that Camping’s goal of warning the world of God’s impeding judgement is causing the exact opposite result. Apocalyptic warnings can be added to the growing descriptors of the modern church which limit our credibility with non-believers. Moral hypocrisy, escapist fundamentalism, self-righteous indignation, and other unfortunately common “Christian” attitudes harden the ground to the seeds of the gospel like a mid-August drought.

I will go out on a limb and say there will be opportunities for us to continue addressing these issues after this Saturday. I think we have a responsibility to confront the issue without limiting the clear warnings in scripture where God exemplifies His holiness through the vehicle of His justice. My concern is how we too often skip the part where God satisfied his holiness and justice by pouring his wrath out on His son! What an amazing love for us indeed!

I like prepared responses, as my day consists of a compilation of around 20 different 20 minute conversations. I’ve tried to come up with one for addressing those who complicate the simple truths of the gospel. I’ve started saying something like this; “It sure is a shame that people can distract us from the fact that there is a God who will someday put things back the way they are supposed to be and that he has shown us how He will do it”.

There are two components in a statement such as that which I believe are very important to any spiritual conversation. First; it concedes there are people who distort truth, but it doesn’t change the fact that there is truth, and secondly; It affirms God is in control and reveals His plan to those who want to find it.

Personally, I feel like I give up too much ground in spiritual conversations under the premise of not wanting to sound like a Harold Camping. The danger in such a retreat lies in validating a pick-and-choose type of faith. Our culture seems to approve of those who will say they love Jesus. What they mean is they approve of those who love the “stained glass window Jesus”, not the “temple table turning Jesus”. We have a responsibility to proclaim the Jesus of the whole bible. We have to become comfortable with the fact that can be uncomfortable!

If your day consists of conversations that are more than 20 minutes long and you want a little more depth on the subject, I would suggest a great book that may flip your preconceived notions of end times right on its “left behind”.

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