Oh, Rapture!

As I write this, it’s about 4 o’clock in the afternoon on May 21, 2011—the day that some Christian ministries have been proclaiming for months as the guaranteed day that Jesus will return to take His faithful home. Since my latest look at CNN.com shows no indications of sudden theophanies or mass disappearances of believers – departing for heavenly glory, I’m figuring that Jesus has only about 8 more hours to put in an appearance before this latest cadre of End-Times prognosticators is shown to be just as mistaken as all those who have gone before them have been. [Of course, to be fair, there are several others time zones where the end of May 21st will come later than 8 hours from now. So technically, I guess that Jesus may have a little more time than that.]

Now just on the off chance that the Rapture doesn’t take place—and all of us are still here on May 22nd—I can’t say that I’ll be surprised. I suppose that I have to count myself among those Christians who tend to think—that since Jesus himself said “only the Father” knew the day and hour of his return—it doesn’t do much good for us to burn much energy making predictions. Then again, I also can’t say that I’ll be especially pleased. After all, as one song puts it: “If we ever needed the Lord before, we sure do need Him now.” Given the level of violence and hatred and mistrust and unfaithfulness in the world, I actually do long for the day when Christ returns and “God makes all things new.” However, assuming that we’re all still here tomorrow, I think that what I will feel is hopeful—hopeful that with this little sideshow behind us we can focus once again on being rich in love, faithful in prayer, and dedicated to living in such a way that “God’s kingdom comes and God’s will gets done on earth as it is in heaven.”

So while I do look forward to that day when God completes the “redemption and restoration” mission the He began in Christ (although I have no clue when or how that time of completion will come), perhaps I can pray for now that the Rapture will come a little every day, as faithful followers of Jesus make his presence a little more clear in the world through their words and lives.

Maranatha. Come, Lord Jesus.

Lovely Feet or Loose Lips

“How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news.”

The Prophet Isaiah, Ancient Israel

“Loose Lips Sink Ships.”

US Civil Defense Slogan, World War 2

I don’t know how many of you are aware of it, but we recently received word in the church office that Calvary Baptist had been named the recipient of a 2011 “Mountie Award.” This means that our congregation was chosen by readers of the Mount Airy News as the Surry County area’s “Best Church.” Naturally, I’d like to be able to say that this has something to do with the arrival of our handsome and talented new pastor (wink, wink)…but the voting on this year’s Mountie Awards clearly took place before I came on the scene. So I guess the best thing I can say is, “Congratulations, Calvary Baptist! You have been ‘letting your light shine’ in such a way that those around you have seen your good works and are glorifying your Father in heaven”…or at least…“They’ve seen your good works and are giving you an award (which doesn’t sound quite as biblical, but which is nice, all the same).”

Now somewhat ironically, in the very same week that we received news about the Mountie Award, I received a phone call from someone who had a very different impression of our church. This individual apparently had what I’ll describe as an “unpleasant encounter” with someone from our congregation, and—when she combined her impressions of this encounter with some unresolved feelings that she had from a prior experience—this was enough to make her question whether we had any true Christians in our midst at all.

In the end, of course, the truth of our church’s character is probably somewhere in between these two poles. We are likely not as good as our ‘best press’ would suggest…nor are we as bad as our ‘worst detractors’ would insist. Our church—like each of us individually—is a sometimes-frustrating mixture of sinner and saint. And perhaps the best we can pray for is that we’re slowly but surely making some kind of progress toward greater Christ-likeness.

But having these two interactions so close together has reminded me (as I hope it will remind all of us) that we are being watched. Whether we realize it or not…whether we like it or not…people are observing our behavior and listening to our words. And they are drawing conclusions—not only about us but also about the Savior we serve—based on what they see.

So what will we show them? Lovely feet that bring good news? Or loose lips that sink ships?

May we aspire to live in such a way that everything we do—in thought word and deed—is done in the name of the Lord Jesus. And may the warm glow of our fellowship cast such an appealing light that others are drawn to the beauty of Christ, who loves us and gave himself for us.