Monday, May 23, 2011

The Rapture in the News

This past week The Rapture made headlines. All of North America was talking about it. And laughing about it. Christians joked about the idea that someone could actually predict when the Rapture would happen, or thought they could. People who don’t know Jesus scoffed at the idea that it would happen at all.

Many Christians were perturbed and embarrassed. Understandably so. They worried about the bad press the Rapture was getting, for Jesus’ sake. But I don’t think Jesus was perturbed.

God is never perturbed or embarrassed. He has no reason to be, even when we do silly things, or evil things, that reflect on Him. He’s used to getting bad press because of us, and He’s really good at taking our negative words and actions and turning them into something that brings good to us, and glory to Himself, where it belongs.

He did it when people scoffed at the prophets He sent in the Old Testament. He did it when people stood at the foot of the cross and mocked Him. He does it still, in these “last days,” when “scoffers will come.” (2 Peter 3:3)

He knew this silly man was going to make this silly mistake. He could have prevented it. But He chose not to.

So how can He bring good out of this fiasco?

Maybe He is using the publicity to wake people up.

Last week, the world learned a new vocabulary word. An important one. And in spite of all the silliness fluttering around the discussions, people were actually talking about Jesus’ return—and a day of reckoning.

Sure, they were scoffing, but underneath all the laughter ran a current of unease—almost awe. One radio announcer, in the midst of the banter back and forth between her and her partner, wondered if it were quite safe to joke about the Rapture. She had a point.

The talk about the rapture fuelled scoffing, but it also directed the world’s attention to the possibility of judgement. People laughed about being “left behind,” but behind the laughter was a hint of sobering fear.

What if?

The question will linger in the back of people’s minds, even after the joke has been lost in other news of the day.

Because of one man’s thoughtless blunder, everyone heard about the possibility that the world was coming to an end. He got the timing wrong, but the central idea is true. The world as we know it will end one day. Many of us think it will happen soon, though we don’t know exactly when. He will come quickly, when we least expect it.

The world needs to be ready. We Christians need to be ready.

What should we do about the end of the world as we know it? Peter tells us how to live:

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: Be holy, because I am holy. (I Peter 1:13-16)

Holy living. Wise living. Incarnational living.

Living in quiet confidence that God is in control, no matter what happens, and being ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope that is in us.

I want Jesus to find me living this way when He comes back, or when He takes me home, whichever comes first.