Editor’s note: During a recent Premium Member Call with the Publisher, members talked about how power-mongers instill fear to gain control of followers. One astute member brought up the belief in Rapture and postulated that many Christians are anticipating Rapture and wondered if they are therefore less likely to get involved in social change. The following post is in response to this set of questions related: What is a Christian responsible to do or not do if the “end of days” are coming? Do you sit and wait for “all hell to break loose,” figuratively speaking, or do you continue to strive to improve the condition of your fellow man and participate in social change?
Strawman: Love in the time of the Apocalypse
Do you believe that some Christians may actually hope—even if only subconsciously—for things to get worse because they look forward to Rapture?”
I would like to think that most Christians agree that “anything” that occurs that leads to the “end of days” is totally under the control of forces other than man. Certain “bad” men are thought to be pawns in the hands of the devil or “instruments” for use by God in seeing that divine will is carried out. Even the “man” who would push the nuclear button is being used to fulfill a prophecy of sorts.
Now, I am not a scholar of religion. As I mentioned in my previous post, I was raised a Jehovah’s Witness by my mother and a Southern Baptist by my grandmother, depending on whose house I was in on any given Sunday. The interesting part of that upbringing is that it made me look closely at all religions. It also helped me to identify myself as a “Christian.”
Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in an apocalypse that will lead to the wicked being wiped out and the good surviving; God makes the decision as to who lives, and the resurrection of the dead, with only 144,000 going to heaven and the rest of us living on earth as God originally planned with Adam and Eve.
As an adult, I have walked into more than one Catholic Church. A devout Catholic friend explained his beliefs:
“It is called the second coming and/or the last judgment. I believe those who have faith go to heaven. Quoting St Paul: ‘Only by faith shall ye be saved,’ left behind are the non-believers. ‘Corporal works of mercy’ is what we call actions that help to improve society. Donating to charities is just a start. Visiting the sick and imprisoned, helping your aging parents and relatives with your time and patience reduce your time in purgatory paying for your sins.”
In speaking only for myself and my beliefs as a Christian, I don’t hope for the worst. But clearly, mankind as a whole is having a problem getting a grip. We have diseases (Zika and super strains of bacteria); we have the King of The North and The King of the South at each other’s throat (The U.S. and Russia); we have mass poverty; pestilence in Africa and parts of South America; food shortages and mass killings (ISIS). Sounds like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are getting ready to saddle up. Famine. War. Disease. Death.
Is this day in age more volatile than others? Are we on the verge of Armageddon or the Rapture?
There is an “event” that causes a cleansing of the “evil” followed by a resurrection and/or event where some if not all go to heaven depending upon your religious point of view. Reasonably speaking, things are getting pretty “iffy” out there. Matthew 25:3-12 says, “Because of the increasing of lawlessness the love of the greater number will cool off.” This scripture supposedly speaks to the beginning of the “end of days” wherein mankind will eventually become lawless and do more harm to each other than was ever done before in human history.
So, do we grab our popcorn, sit in our lounge chair and watch the “badness”? Should we just accept the horrible things we see as pre-destined or something that should be altered by our efforts?
We live in very volatile times, yet there are these little glimpses of humanness that we see daily. And yes, there is the advent of social media and instant video that bring the graphic context of the “bad situations” that happen on the planet in front of us a lot quicker than we have ever seen as humans.
Still, there is a gut feeling. I think it goes beyond what I alone believe.
As Christians and non-Christian, we still have an obligation to do good works. We need to bridge communications in this difficult time. We need to speak to each other, not preach or proselytize but speak. Then, if there is an understanding of shared human experiences and mutual respect… then, and only then can we discuss our beliefs without criticizing or condemning differing point of views. We can discuss what we see wrong in the world and how we can help. We need to do what we can within the realm of our shared human experience to assist those in need. There is no Bible passage that says, “stand back and watch.”
Sounds like a discussion that only open-minded adults should have.
We can each seek our commonalities, what is good in man. By understanding what makes us the same and focusing on our differences is always a good place to begin in understanding and subsequently respecting one another. We can “preach” to each other, by our actions, by our works, with our compassion, by our support and love of all men and women. Rich, poor, Muslim, gay, atheist… it doesn’t matter. And truly the Bible says nothing about love mankind, except for… those people. Acts of “love” can be peaceful protest, monetary aid, taking in your fellow man (think Canadians who are literally bringing Syrian families into their homes), donation of time and technology (see Medical Ministries International,) the opportunities to serve, to do good and good works abound as Christians.
Sitting on the sidelines is not an option. What would Jesus do? He wasn’t a spectator.
If you are a Christian who believes that God will cleanse the evil of the earth then what is your responsibility as a Christian until the time comes? Do you have any responsibility to your fellow man in the interim?
Matthew 24: 10-14 says “Then, too, many will be stumbled and will betray one another and will hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and mislead many; and because of the increasing of lawlessness, the love of the greater number will grow cold. But the one who has endured to the end will be saved. And this good news of the Kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
I believe that Matthew 24 describes perfectly what Christians should be doing during this time. As things appear to be getting worse, however, God is in front of all of it. With that said what I believe our job is as Christians is to stay the course, keep being Christ-like in acts of faith and kindness in support of better lives for believers and non-believers. It Involves doing good works, spreading the gospel through good works, help those less fortunate, and hopefully, hopefully, continue to act as a light in the world that predominantly seeks darkness. I leave it to you to decide who the “false prophets” are being referred to in the Book of Matthew. Any names?
I am not Robert Langdon—Dan Brown’s character in Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code—I am just a self-described Christian who sees the hope in humanity and the good that I believe God sees. Hence, any reference to an apocalypse does not include total eradication of mankind, but a second chance to get it right. In times where it seems hopeless, like now, find your faith—whatever that is to you—and preach by doing the right thing, the good thing that your spirit drives you to do in the hope that you can help God by making a difference.
Photo credit: Flickr/Marcilino Rapayla Jr., cropped