First, a beginning. This is the beginning of my blog. I have wanted to do this for some time, and so I’m finally going to try it. I like to think and I like to write, and so I am going to be doing those things here. It will mostly be about the Bible, or theology, or spiritual matters. Or maybe sometimes I will have something to say about a book I have read or song I have heard. I really have no clear agenda right now, but maybe someday it will grow into something and I’ll see what it is. Anyways, if you read anything I write, I would appreciate feedback. One of the main reasons I am doing this is so that I can share what I am learning with other people, and so that they can respond with what they have learned, and in the end we can all grow together. If you want to take this journey with me, I welcome your company.
And then, an ending. It may seem strange to start with an ending, but what has been on my mind lately has not been just any ending, but THE ending. I’ve been thinking about the ending that we all hope for, when Christ returns and everything is made new again. No more sin, no more heartache, no more fear. No more tornadoes. I may be a little late to write about this, since the end of the world was supposed to have happened over a week ago, and we are all still here, and the excitement has mostly died away. But the whole event got me thinking: How much of our focus should be on the end? And what should we be doing in the mean-time? I see some people whose sole focus is on the end. They see what is wrong in the world, and they cannot wait until they can escape the hellishness of earth and go to heaven. When they talk to others about God, their focus is on what happens after death. And they are right, because eternity is a big choice. I see other people who focus much more on now. They see what is wrong in the world, and they go out to try to cure the earth of the hellishness that has infected it. Their ministry involves doing things now, being the hands and feet of Christ. And they are right, because people have hurts and needs, and Christ’s example was to meet those needs.
I see people at both extremes, and everywhere in the middle, and the pendulum swings back and forth. I think that several decades ago the pendulum reached its peak in the “Let’s get outta here!” mode, and now it is nearing its peak in the “Let’s do something!” mode. It’s been pretty clear to me from books I’ve read and conversations I’ve had that Christians of my generation want to change the world now, and though they do look forward with hope to that ultimate ending of pain and sadness, they want to do what they can to end pain and sadness now. The thing is that both points of views are exactly right, but if they stand alone they are not the whole picture.
And so, Mr. Camping, who made a prediction about the end of the world in 1994 and was wrong and then tried it again two weeks ago and was wrong again, forgets that we still have a job to do here until Christ’s return, and that maybe the reason that Christ didn’t tell us when he is coming back or leave us enough clues to figure it out was so that we wouldn’t waste our time sitting around waiting for the show to end. We are the show, and we have work to do for now. In 1994, the same year Mr. Camping made his first prediction, the Newsboys came out with a new cd, “Going Public,” which brought them huge success in Christian music with their hit “Shine.” But it wasn’t “Shine” which caught my attention the other day as I listened to this cd from my past, but rather an obscure song called “Lights Out.” Some of its lyrics go like this:
“Last one nails the shutters shut and climbs up to the top of the roof;
He’s waiting there for the second coming, says he’s got mathematical proof.
Who do you think you are did you figure out the date?
What do you hope to do while you sit around and wait, wait, wait?
Don’t go shutting down ‘til the trumpet sounds, and the battle is won;
Don’t go punching out ‘til the final shout, and the Father says well done.”
I don’t know if that song was written as a response to the predictions in 1994, but everyone who is like me will hear that song and think, “Yes! That’s exactly the attitude we all should have.” And we should, and I wish Mr. Camping had gotten this message in 1994.
But because pretty much everyone will probably agree with me on this, I want to offer a word of balance that I heard in church two Sundays ago, the day after the world didn’t end. My pastor was introducing a new sermon series called WEIRD, in which he plans to look at how Christians are called to not fit in in this world. We should not be at completely at home here because we are citizens of heaven, people of God. In Hebrews 11, the writer says that our great examples of faith in the Bible were not at home here. They knew they didn’t belong. “They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland.” (Hebrews 11:13-14) What I took away from this was that it’s okay to look ahead toward the future when everything is made new and we are finally at home. It’s just best not to get too comfortable–too comfortable with life on this earth or too comfortable with sitting around and waiting for the end.
Continue to reach out, to love, to change things, to make people scratch their heads because the love of Christ which exudes from you is a bit…weird. And don’t forget that you are not home yet, and it is okay to look with hope toward the future. Don’t ride the pendulum. And now, a brief snippet from a Kevin Max song to balance what the Newsboys said:
“I don’t belong, this my song, this my song.”