There’s no doubt you’ve heard of Harold Camping‘s prediction that Jesus Christ will return for His Church tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. (Pacific time). This man, like others in the past, has generated quite a buzz in the media — particularly in internet circles. Up until now I’ve done a pretty good job of ignoring this story. However, realizing that the world is watching, I feel compelled to share a few thoughts regarding a proper Christian response to this matter:
1. We must view these so called ‘doomsday predictions’ as opportunities. First of all, as believers we know that the long-anticipated return of Jesus Christ will be a day of great rejoicing and celebration — not a doomsday. The media really seems to enjoy that term. Over the past several days I’ve read and seen a number of tweets, Facebook posts, and online article comments regarding this prediction. So many of these remarks remind me that our culture is spiritually blind. The mainstream Christian community is pretty unified in seeing Camping as a heretic, a lunatic, or just a well-meaning but seriously misguided soul. However, our tendency to join the world in making light and poking fun at Camping’s strange teaching might be a lost opportunity to share the truths of Scripture with regard to the return of Jesus Christ and end times prophecies.
2. We must filter such predictions through the lens of Scripture. Of course, that means we must know and believe the Bible. This is where so many Christians fall short and feel inadequate to explain its truths to others. Nobody knows when the Lord will return — not even Him. This is a truth spoken by Jesus Christ himself:
But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, or the Son, but the Father only. (Matthew 24:36, ESV) [Read whole chapter]
However, just because others, like Camping, have speculated many times before in no way negates the fact that Jesus is coming again. We must remain watchful and hopeful for the day of the Lord. And we must live each day as though it were our last on this earth — because we never know when that day will come.
3. We must take seriously our responsibility to evangelize the world. The days in which we live are extremely urgent. The conversations I’ve read and heard in recent days powerfully underscore the fact that there are many people in our nation and around our world who not only poke fun at Camping but also at the perceived folly and gullibility of Bible-believing Christians. Many of them indicate an utter disdain for God’s Word and a total disbelief that this world will one day come to an end. Many of them also indicate total disbelief in an afterlife. My heart breaks for those who do not know Jesus Christ. When the trumpet sounds, we know that there will be many people who are left behind. Some of them will be our family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Because the days are urgent, we must be faithful and diligent to share the love and message of Christ at every opportunity.
4. We must be willing to endure persecution for the cause of Christ. Jesus Christ was mocked, spat upon, rejected by mankind, and ultimately crucified for each of our sins. As disciples of Christ we should expect nothing different. And we should be prepared to die for our faith in Him. It’s really easy to want to distance ourselves from conversations that force us to defend our faith. Our society places great value on not being ‘weird’ or ‘strange’ or ‘different.’ However, Jesus said that those of us who belong to the Kingdom of heaven are aliens in this world and that we would face persecution as His followers:
Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! (Luke 6:22, ESV) [Read whole chapter]
If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. (John 15:18-20, ESV) [Read whole chapter]
If we are living lives that honor Christ, then the world will ridicule us, attempt to marginalize our influence, and even hate us. In his renowned work, The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer challenges believers to understand that when Jesus calls one, He bids him ‘come and die.’ A more contemporary author and pastor, David Platt, suggests in Radical that the cost of non-discipleship is even greater — for ourselves and for the world that stands in great need of the truth.
Regardless of when our Lord returns, may He find us ready. May He find us faithful. And may He find us working to reach the world that He died to save — all because of love.
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IT’S YOUR TURN!
Have those in your circles of influence been talking about this latest prediction? How are you responding to their comments or questions?