Yesterday was the start of the End of the World. You may not know it, but millions of people will now be dying as the end times are upon us. Last night, at 6pm, the Rapture occurred and thousands of people disappeared in to heaven. Or so goes the prediction of Harold Camping, the latest doomsday soothsayer, who predicted that the end times would start with the Rapture on May 21st and the tribulation would continue until October 21st.
The eschatology of the end times is depressing. So many good people believe in this, some strongly enough to sell everything they have to spread the message - as has occurred in the case of followers of Harold Camping. They have sold their worldly goods in the belief that the world will end soon. A lot of impoverished people will be wondering what they have done this morning. I wonder if Mr Camping will be returning their money to them. It's not as if this is even a common interpretation of the end times - the usual length of the tribulation being seven years.
Why are these evangelical Christians so intent on ending the world? I find it extremely saddening that they just can not see the sanctity and beauty of the world in which we live. Is it not better to focus on living well in this world, and improving the lives of those around you, than focusing on this eschatological outlook? There are many problems that are not being addressed, such as the threat of global warming, poverty, hunger, homelessness, loss of community. Time spent on preaching the end times could be spent far more productively on making the lives of those around them just that little bit better.
I believe that these are only the last days if the eschatology-focussed evangelists succeed in making them so. They are so focused on the next world that this world is neglected. There are things that need to be done NOW in order to preserve our place in this world. If wrong (and there is always that possibility no matter how sure you feel) then it will be our children and grandchildren will be the ones who will suffer.
To me, it seems that the sentiment of the evangelist is that: "It doesn't matter what happens to this world as I'm going to heaven", or: "The quicker this world is destroyed, then the quicker judgement day will come and I'll have my perfect life". These sentiments do not reflect well on anyone. Especially so when coupled with the smug attitude that anyone not believing as they do will burn in hell.
I have written before that it is my belief that Jesus expected that the Kingdom of God would be here, on Earth - as keeping with the Jewish eschatology he would have been familiar with. I have written more recently on the view that, perhaps, the Kingdom of God is indeed a spiritual one and that we only have to accept it in our hearts. Either way, I believe that the coming of God's Kingdom is down to us. It won't be a big battle in the skies and a whisking off of several believers in to the heavens. It will be a battle of the shadow within us all, a personal battle that each of us need to make. When enough of us manage to win, the Kingdom of God will be here - because we will have built it. This is free will, given to us by God. This is choice and personal responsibility. We have a choice, live well or not. It is down to each of us to make that choice.
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
~ Matthew 7:15-29
Image from the Wikipedia article on Harold Camping and is Creative Commons material
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