I’m writing this on May 21 and if you’re reading it the end of the world didn’t happen as California preacher Harold Camping predicted.
Actually, that’s not quite accurate. He predicted that Jesus would return on that day (today as I write this) and take all those who believe in him to heaven, leaving those who don’t behind.
Hmmm. That means if you’re reading this and I’ve left a vapor trail somewhere over central Florida it might not have been a good week for you, what with all the Armageddon stuff that’s supposed to go on.
In the 11 or so years I’ve been writing this column I’ve avoided writing about my theological views about some non-essential aspects of the Christian faith, such as end times theories.
I believe Jesus will return some day because he said so, but I’m not going to bet the farm on the details that we Christians don’t all agree on. Not every Christian believes in the end times theories as written in the “Left Behind” books.
Still, when I heard about Jesus coming back on May 21 I thought that it would be cool. It would mean missing the finale of American Idol, but maybe there will be giant flat-screen TVs in heaven and we can all watch together. (My husband can watch the hockey play offs.)
Earlier, I considered buying and eating a humongous chocolate chunk cookie I saw at Dunkin Donuts. “If Jesus comes today,” I thought, “then I can eat one or two or even five. I can even go to Dairy Queen for a large-size Blizzard and get a slab of ribs somewhere – eat all the foods I’ve avoided all these years.”
However, I don’t want to spend my final hours on earth doubled over, unless it’s in prayer. So, instead, I’m sitting on a bench outside a country restaurant waiting to talk with a bluegrass mandolin player for a newspaper story.
Later, I’m going to do some laundry and wash the dishes. I’m going to buy some tomatoes from a roadside stand and maybe go to the gym.
I plan on eating a chopped salad with corn, black beans and salsa for lunch and going to the Saturday night service at my church where I’ll be one of the communion servers. The pastor is planning to talk about God’s holiness and awesomeness.
Sometimes I think that we Christians forget about the awesomeness of God. Not so much in the “He’s huge and powerful” sense, but in the “He’s way cool and does neat stuff because he’s for us and not against us” way of being awesome.
We Christians get too caught up in our pet theories and charts and predictions and standing on street corners yelling about it, making ourselves look foolish and driving people away from the very God we want them to embrace. I wonder if it may have more to do with wanting to be proven right than with wanting unbelievers to love Jesus. Just asking.
I might be wrong, but I think Jesus would prefer that we not focus on pinpointing the date of his returning and direct our energies instead toward being more forgiving and encouraging of one another. I think Jesus would prefer that we further his kingdom here on earth and work to renew his creation here and now.
I’ve been around Christians who believe the end is so near so why bother trying to make this world better. As it’s said, “They’re so heavenly minded that they’re no earthly good.” I think Jesus would prefer that we’re both – heavenly minded and earthly good.
At my church we say that the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. As I write this, I don’t know if Jesus is coming today or not. I’m thinking no, but that won’t stop me from believing that one day he will or stop me from my desire to glorify and enjoy him forever, here on earth and someday in heaven.
Also at my church we sing, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty.” Those who expect Jesus to come today expect to sing this tonight in heaven, and maybe they will. I just sang it, quietly to myself.
Because the kingdom of God is now.
Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927, Monday through Thursday, or via e-mail at email@example.com.