Now, I’ve had as much fun as the rest of you with laughing at the claims that the world was going to end today, May 21, 2011.
I’m not going to work on a sermon, since we won’t be here! I’m going to go and load up the credit cards! Start trouble! All the same jokes.
I’ve retweeted some of the funnier statements today. I’ve laughed, I’ve smirked, I’ve poked and I’ve prodded. It’s been kind of funny.
But as I was reading about how the world didn’t end today, something happened. I got a little sad. And a little angry. I was thinking about how the church has been portrayed by all this the past few days, and it’s not been pretty.
Now, first, why do I say “the church?” This is why. Inside the church, we make distinctions. You’re Baptist. You’re Methodist. You’re evangelical. You’re liberal. You’re whatever label we put on each other.
To the world, though, that’s not the case. We are all a mass of Christianity. They don’t see our “labels.” They simply see us as Christians. And while we can make distinction amongst ourselves, they don’t. And when something like this happens, it shames all of us. It makes us all look foolish in the eyes of the world.
But Andy, doesn’t the Bible say that God uses the foolish to shame the wisdom of the world.
Yes it does. But, this is not what it’s talking about. The foolishness of God is that we are saved not be “being” good or by “doing” anything. We are saved by grace through faith, so that no one can boast. And then that belief and that faith MUST change our life.
It is foolish to love and forgive and to charge into the darkness unafraid. That is the foolishness of God. Not what we’ve seen in the past few days. I believe that the work of Harold Camping has greatly harmed the cause of Christ because:
1. Mockery of the church. We will be scorned; our beliefs may be seen as out of step. Sure, that’s fine, that’s ok. But, that’s not what this is. All through out scripture, the people of God were not seen as embarrassing or as jokes. Radical yes. Passionate, sure. But, never as a joke. Paul was beaten and thrown out of town. But He was respected. Jesus taught with authority and people followed Him. David, while not “looking” like a king was a man after God’s own heart. The people of God, while always being different and scorned, they lived lives above reproach and were respected for the integrity by which they lived their lives.
That has not been the case with this situation.
Now the opinion of the world, is not my primary concern. But, it does matter.
On one hand I don’t care what the world thinks of me. I don’t. But on the other, I must use everything at my power, all that I am, all that have I have to live, love, and proclaim the grace of God to all that I meet. I want to honor Jesus with all that am.
So, all of this, did it honor Jesus? Did it bring glory to His name? Did it draw people to Him?
And because of that, His cause in the world was harmed.
2. Harm caused to people. People sold all that they had. Not to follow Jesus, but to follow Harold Camping. And he let them. He didn’t stop them. That is wrong.
Families were separated. Not to follow Jesus, but to follow a man.
This is wrong.
John Wesley had General Rules for Methodists in his day, and they were: “do no harm, do good, stay in love with God.” The first rule was “do no harm.” This movement did not abide by this rule. Harm was done. To well meaning people that just wanted to do what they felt like God wanted.
As a pastor, I have to do right by my people. What bothers me about Harold Camping was that people followed him. And he didn’t have their best interest at heart.
And that hurts the cause of Christ.
We, as Christians, and as the church, exist to draw people to Christ and let them know His great love for them. This entire episode damaged the cause of Christ by focusing on something that we have no control over. I long for the return of Christ. I long for God’s kingdom to be completed. I long for our redemption.
I believe in the return of Christ. But that’s out of my hands. I have no control over it.
You know what I do have control over? Loving my enemies. Praying for those that curse me. Helping the poor, the least, the lost. Growing closer to Jesus. Falling in love with Him. Teaching others of His love.
And that, more than guessing about the end of the world, gives honor to Christ.
That’s what Harold Camping didn’t focus on. That’s what we, as the church, must focus on.
Whether Jesus returns today, or a 1000 years from now. We need to live, love, serve, and worship until He calls us home. All in His due time.