Thought for the Day - Rev Joel Edwards
In case you didn’t get the memo, today is - or should have been - Judgement day.
According to Harold Camping a former engineer from California, an earthquake devastating an entire nation should have started roughly an hour ago and millions of Christians will have been beamed up in a rapturous flight to meet Jesus in the clouds leaving their pets, personal belongings and billions of people stranded.
Technically, I should not be here.
Harold Camping and his placard looked like an advert for a closing down sale. But he is merely the latest voice in a long history of people who put the Bible and numerology in the same box and came up with a date for doomsday.
Even Isaac Newton succumbed to the temptation predicting the end of the world in 2060.
It’s not so much that people have taken the bible literally: it’s more a case of truth-claims being kidnapped by calendars!
The idea of a Second Coming is as central to the New Testament as the virgin birth, crucifixion and resurrection – which Christians claim as historic events. And yes, Jesus supported ideas found in the Hebrew prophets about a mysterious and enigmatic Second Coming of the Son of Man. But he was certainly not underwriting theological hysteria or social panic.
And he certainly didn’t mean to provide good business for pet minders!
We have to do a lot better than presenting ridiculous caricatures of a God who inspires people to withdraw into communes of self harm and political irrelevance.
If a Second Coming means anything it’s about meaningfully living today.
Jesus’ teaching exemplified this. A nobleman was about to go on a long journey, Jesus said. And before he went he gave his servants money with clear instructions to engage profitably until his return. As the King James Bible puts it, “Occupy until I come.”
And that’s precisely what the New Testament means by living in the hope of his appearing. People who really believe in a Second Coming should be caught hard at work - not obsessed with the mechanics of future events. Christian hope is willing to wait for a better world. But in the meantime it’s impatient with the world as it is and exerts every effort to see what hope might bring to the world as we know it today.
For its future hope which pushes and prompts us to be people of purpose in the here and now.