I have to admit that I was distracted on Saturday May 21st at 6:00 in the evening to look for the return of Jesus. I did finally check the clock at 6:30 and realized that either the rapture hadn't happened or I was left behind. Since my wife and son were still here also, I began to suspect that Camping had been wrong in his prediction. I even called my brother to check on him and see if he were still here, which he was. My Mom called to check and see if I were still here, which I was. Looks like another fool has tried to know more than God and failed miserably. When will we ever learn?
Well, here are some lessons from the hype of this last prediction (And hopefully the last Camping will ever make). I hope these lessons will strengthen us in the future:
Lesson #1 - Trust in Jesus, not in a man
It's easy to look at followers of Harold Camping or Jim Jones as fools and easily led astray. However, there are many in the church today who attend their church because of a person other than Jesus - They come because of the personality of the pastor or go to Sunday School because of the teacher. We can easily find ourselves following a personality rather than the person of Jesus. Jesus is our role model, hero, Savior and all-in-all. Whenever we take our eyes off Jesus, trouble always comes. Examine your own followship to see if you are coming to church because of a person other than Jesus. If that person were to leave the church or fall, what would happen to your faith? Please, look up to Jesus and model your life after Him, but don't fall into the cult of personality.
Lesson #2 - Camping is a false prophet, liar and thief
Those may seem like strong words, but that is how we are to judge our leaders. James tell us that not many of us should presume to be teachers because teachers will be judged more strictly. Paul admonishes us to have high standards in judging our leaders. Camping made a prophecy and in God's eyes, Camping gets only one shot at this. If his prophecy doesn't come true he is a false prophet and should never be listened to again. I find it interesting that in the hours after his prophecy failed, reporters went to his home for a comment, but no one would answer the door. I guess they are busily crafting and wording their response to this failure. Beware of someone who won't even step up and own up to his mistakes, but hides behind closed doors. Shame on anyone who listens to his radio station, sends a penny to this "ministry" or ever listens to Camping again. As the great theologian Gomer Pyle once said: "Fool me once, your fault. Fool me twice, my fault".
Lesson #3 - The focus of our lives as Christians should not be on judgment but on Jesus
The followers of Camping gave us a lot to follow his teaching and now they are left empty. Their entire focus was on the coming judgment, seeking to scare people into Heaven. Rarely does this work with any lasting results. Oh, we can scare people into saying the sinner's prayer, but that doesn't mean the person has made a commitment to follow Jesus. We may be doing more harm than good. Following Jesus is not about fire insurance to miss Hell, although that's a great benefit. Following Jesus is about allowing Jesus to transform our lives throughout our lifetime. It is a moment-by-moment journey that at times can be painful, yet at other times exhilarating! Let's let the world see the joy and peace which rules our lives because of the radical change Jesus has brought.
Lesson #4 - Utilize Every Opportunity to share Jesus
I have had wonderful opportunities to share Christ with friends and acquaintances because of the hype of this prediction. The doors have opened in the locker room of 24 Fitness for me to talk calmly about Jesus and how we should prepare for His return. God can even utilize the foolishness of one man to see others come to Christ. Unfortunately, the by-product of Camping has been to give the skeptics more ammunition to keep Jesus at a distance. For that, Camping and his followers will be held accountable. However, we will be accountable for whether we have taken advantage of this wonderful opportunity to share Jesus with our friends, whether in person or Facebook or over the phone. Did you witness about the true Jesus this past week?
Lesson #5 - Know your Bible
The most foolish people are those who chose to believe a teaching which goes contrary to the explicit words of Jesus. They blindly gave money and many gave up their homes and jobs to proclaim a lie to the world. They could have better utilized these sacrifices by studying the Bible and becoming involved in ministries which touch people's lives. Don't be a victim to the cult of personality. We need to be in God's Word every day! That's why our church bulletin has daily quiet times listed so each day you can listen to God from His Word. If we are knowing and applying God's Word, we will see the false prophets from a mile away. Not only that, but we will be able to give a reasonable response when faced with unreasonable events and circumstances. The purpose of your church is not to get you addicted to attending church, but to train you to be dependent on God, not on man. Are you in God's Word daily?
There are tons more lessons we can take from such a prediction, but these will do for this blog. I would be interested in hearing the lessons you have learned or we should learn from such a foolish prediction. May this Sip refresh you to serve the Lord and share His love with a lost and dying world.