Perhaps now is the right time to be considering Jesus’ return in different manner.
TO THOSE WHO TRUST CHRIST: Perhaps we should preoccupy ourselves with the coming of Jesus, not to catch up the elect in the air, and usher in the final judgment of an angry G-d, but rather perhaps we should concern ourselves with the coming of Jesus into our hearts and lives. This is something I am convinced we need no special prophetic ability or numerological system to predict, for I believe that Christ is always waiting to enter our hearts. When we find ourselves faced with a choice: to love or to hate; to forgive or to carry a grudge; to place one’s own needs or the needs of others first, there we find Jesus, poised and ready to come into our hearts: to possess us, as it were, with a Spirit that is so much more expansive, so much more profound, so much more filled with love than our own. There He stands, ready to make us a new creation.
I will tell you that I do not believe that Brother Harold is a bad man; at least he’s no more a bad man than I am, or anyone else is. In fact, I find him to be sincere. I am fairly well convinced he believed with every ounce of his being that the Day of Judgment as he understands it would begin on Saturday, the 21st of May, 2011. It just so happens that he couldn’t have been more wrong. I pray that he will acknowledge the error, make amends where possible, and move forward with deeper understanding and humility. If he finds the moral courage to do so, such actions will surely go a very long way. I could go on and on about interpreting Scripture and the nature and consequences of false prophesy, but so many have and are doing this, and can probably do it far better than I can. Instead, let me suggest this: What was most ‘off’ about Brother Harold’s message is that it makes no sense to attempt to teach the world about the Lord of life and eternal hope by using fear. There’s a reason why angelic messages tend to begin with ‘fear not’; there’s a reason why Jesus tells His disciples, ‘let not your hearts be troubled’ before He tells them He is going to prepare a place for them. It doesn’t make sense to try to teach the world about the G-d of peace and love using hatred and divisiveness. There is a reason why Jesus announces Himself to His disciples after the His resurrection with the greeting, ‘Peace be with you.’
And before we become too judgmental about Mr. Camping, and his followers, or those who scoff at the Bible or at Christianity, in fact before we pick up a verbal/moral/psychological/actual rock and throw it at anyone, perhaps we should remember that ‘Christian’ translates roughly to ‘little Christ’ and if that’s what we call ourselves, we are professing to hold as our highest example, the one who cried out to G-d, ‘Father, forgive them’ even as He hung by His own torn and beaten flesh upon the cross.
TO THOSE WHO DO NOT TRUST CHRIST: As a preacher, I suppose I should make a pitch, and I will, for just a moment: I think it’s okay that you don’t believe in G-d. I’m sure you have your reasons, and they are between you and Him. Maybe that will change. Maybe it won’t. But at least in my opinion, I am convinced that G-d still believes in YOU. He’s big enough that He’s not going to get hurt feelings if you are some place else spiritually speaking. What I’ll also say, just human to human, is this: although we can all joke that the world didn’t end on 21st May, 2011, there are those for whom it did: if the statistics are to be believed, some 155,000 people died on Saturday. For them, their world, as they knew it ended. That’s nothing extraordinary: that’s just the number of people who, on average, die every day. And then there are those whose world ended in other ways: the weight of debt, hopelessness, crime, depression. And then there are those who may have wished the world would have ended for reasons nothing to do with Brother Camping’s predictions. You may not believe in G-d, but you have plenty of opportunity to be godlike in giving and forgiving. It’s a precept that appears in several religions and more than a few humanistic philosophies: you can hate and deride and point the finger of blame, or you can take steps to become the change; to embody the good you desire to see in this world.
To all: if you’d like to discuss these matters seriously, or even jokingly, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anthony Mark LaMort
Pastor, Reconciliation Christian Church
Orange, New Jersey .