Monday, January 3, 2011

The End of the World is Coming - Again had an interesting article today, about a coalition of religious groups claiming that the end of the world will happen in 2011. (See the article here.) Specifically, they claim that the Rapture will happen on May 21, 2011, and the end of the world, the wrapping up of all things, the final curtain for this planet (and the sun and moon and stars, according to the prophecies) will be on October 21, 2011.

Well. That May 21 date is really going to mess up the graduation plans for our three local high schools.

The article is written rather tongue-in-cheek, with more than a note of amusement. The May 21 date is prominently featured in a photograph accompanying the article, but you have to click through a couple more websites to find the October 21 date. I think that would be a more important date than May 21, for most earthlings.

Those other two websites? Well, the article has enough clues for you to find them on your own. One website has a detailed, lengthy, and convoluted description of the calculations that led its author to those two dates.

Forgive my skepticism, but we've been down this road before. Not counting bona fide kooks who try to hitch a ride on a passing comet, modern times have seen many Christians who have tried to decipher the clues in the Bible to come up with dates for the End Times.

In fairness, I should disclose that I am a member of a religious group that believes firmly in the reality of a literal, future, Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the literal fulfillment of all the prophecies leading up to it. I look forward to His Coming. I believe that many of the prophesied events have already happened, and that the time is near. But I can't define "near." I wish we knew the day when He was coming, because I work better under deadline pressure, and a deadline would make it a lot easier to prepare.

Ah, but that's the point. As good Christians, we should be living in such a way that we are always prepared for His coming.

Because the reality is this: we see Jesus Christ every day. Not literally, of course, but every day we have the opportunity to render service to someone, to brighten somebody's day, to give somebody comfort or relief or a simple helping hand. Jesus explained to His followers: "Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, you have done it unto me." (That's Matthew 25:40, if you want to look it up.)

Another part of that reality is this: you may literally meet your Maker today. You don't need to wait for May 21, 2011. Maybe the cement truck with your name on the front bumper is headed your direction right now. Just as "no man knoweth the hour or the day of" the Second Coming, so nobody can predict the hour or the day of their own death (with a few exceptions). If that cement truck catches up to you today, you could beat the Big Event by 4 months and 18 days.

All this fussing about dates is irrelevant -- it's "straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel" -- and moreover, it ignores what the Master called the "weightier matters of the law." Whatever happens on May 21, or whenever They call my number, I hope that the day finds me still buckled into the harness and tugging hard, working to make the world a better place one person at a time, the same as on any other day.

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