These are the comments I shared with our congregation this morning in worship.
As you may have seen on the news, a radio evangelist with no formal religious training determined by a careful reading of the King James Bible that he could determine, without a doubt, that the world will end.
Never mind that Jesus, himself said, “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Mark 13:32)
This man joined a long line of people and religious groups claiming to know something that is unknowable.
Since we are all gathered here this morning, we can either assume that he was again incorrect.
Or else you can look around and see who else wasn’t on Jesus’ “most popular list”. I am thankful to be in such good company.
And while it is easy to dismiss this man and his followers as loony, to use a technical term, in fact we should all be on guard against trying to use “God’s will” to promote our own agendas or causes.
The truth is, this side of heaven, we don’t know what God is thinking or how God would answer our questions.
While we do have scripture, it doesn’t always address issues of modern life. And we pray for discernment, but the truth is, “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
People who predict the end of times are often listened to more closely during times of uncertainty and turmoil. People seek comfort from the divine when there is no comfort here. Here is how theologian Paul Raushenbush put it yesterday in an article:
“The end of the world seems like a positive and real option when you are at rock bottom and don’t know how to rise up. Or maybe they are people who are simply looking for a reason to make their lives matter in the face of the alienation of our modern world, or the day-to-day tedium and challenges. Seeing a clear end date on the horizon makes every day count.”
And here is the one truth I’ve seen in the whole “end of the world” hoopla.
There are times when the end is near.
We should live each day as if it mattered, because each day does. We don’t know when disease will strike, or when a heart attack will happen in the night. We live healthy and whole lives, hoping that some day, way down the road, we will die in our sleep. But it doesn’t work out that way for everyone.
And so we tell the people we love that we love them. Today.
We enjoy time spent laughing with friends and loved ones. Today.
We get out there and enjoy life. Today.
Because “about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father”.
So don’t worry about the rapture. It is a pointless exercise that gets us away from the work God has called us to do.
And don’t worry about whatever might or might not happen in the future. But do enjoy today. Do live your life fully today. Do treat the people you meet on the journey with compassion and care. Do share the love of a gracious and merciful God with those people who are susceptible to end of the world scares, because they might need to hear of it more than anyone.