So, it's come and gone. No rapture, no global earthquake. What lessons could Christians take from this unfortunate PR disaster? It's true this was a small following that made bold pronouncements that the world would end on Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 6PM, but Family Radio had 2000 billboards, dozens of radio stations, and were broadcasting into 30 languages.
For me, here are some lessons I'm taking away:
- If it's sensational and a Christian organization claims it, it is most likely false. More than this prediction of the end of the world, there have been the suggestions that Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev were the Antichrist, that the FCC was going to ban Christians from broadcasting, and that Proctor and Gamble was owned by occultists. Time and time again conspiracy theories and predictions of the spectacular have proven false. While I don't personally know anyone who followed Camping or believed the jig was going to be up on Saturday, I have known otherwise level-headed believers who have bought into the ridiculous.
- I should desire for Christ to return. I think it's more than fair to say to all those who were preparing for the End were wanting a good thing. It's good to want be with God and to desire the Second Coming of Christ. When I forget that my possessions, plans, and ambitions need to be secondary to Christ's return and the task of spreading his message to the ends of the earth, I have diverged from the path that Jesus has called me to walk.
- What is happening in the world NOW matters to God. Some intellectuals have accused Christians of acting morally irresponsibly in an effort to hasten the end of the world. They claim the reason evangelical Christians, who have a strong conviction and interest in the End, care less about the environment, their health, and solving poverty and other systematic societal injustices is because we don't care about the world around us, but only the world to come. That's a distortion of what I think most Christians believe, but a point I think we need to pause and think about. You and I are given the charge by Jesus to "Occupy" till he comes. How might our occupation more significantly impact present-day issues. I'm not talking about political activism, either. I am talking action, and I would love to hear what some of you think about this point.
- Ministry money needs to be spent on items that have lasting transformational value. Instead of spending what must have been millions on the end of the world campaign, setting up orphanages, ministerial training centers, schools, feeding programs or building churches in needy places would have had a longer and more fruitful impact in the world than spending what was spent on this kind of public warning that the end was near. I will thinking long and hard about the kinds of things I give to and that I lead my church in financially supporting in the future.
There you have it--my take-aways from the Doomsday that wasn't but will be someday.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus and help me be a wise and shining light in your world until you do.
Labels: Christianity, end times, eschatology, Jesus Christ, judgment day