camping out

It’s 9:44pm on Saturday, May 21, 2011.  I’m still here.  Planes are not falling out of the sky.  There was no trumpet blast.  Jesus isn’t riding on a white stallion or waiting in the air to resurrect the dead according to the timezone their buried in.

Judgement day was, yet again, a dud.

Matters of faith are obviously compelling for people.  It can literally alter our behavior, cause us to sit back and consider others before we act, compel us to give generously of our resources.

It can also plunge society into a state of either mass hysteria, or mass mockery of those in hysterics.

As someone who believes that Jesus does give us the best example of how we should be thinking and living and doing, all of the talk about the rapture and judgement day has honestly made me queasy at times over the past few days.  For some reason, we get the idea from reading God’s message of love that the approach to life is to be preaching of a dire doomsday; hellfire and brimstone will rain from the sky and burn our flesh.  Come to Jesus now for your fire insurance.  Come now before it’s too late – before Jeeeeeezus casts you into a churning lake of molten evil.

Over and over and over and over – we miss the point.  Not just those guys like Camping who sit around and crunch numbers in an effort to know the infallible instant of the lord’s returning, but those of us who make life about a collection of individuals deciding either right or wrong, damnation or paradise, heaven or hell.  Over and over we make accusations based on our time-tested, God-inspired interpretation of scripture… even though it’s in opposition to your time-tested, God-inspired interpretation.  Over and over, the message that is presented is that a solitary collection of individuals has it right and are giving you the last-chance-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sign up (and, many times, support) and escape the horrors of life on the wrong side of eternity.

So now that another Christian’s prophecy has crashed and burned in a spectacularly humiliating affair what does that mean for those left behind?

It means we go on, living the kind of life that approximates Jesus gently rather than insists on Jesus forcibly.  It means we continue in generosity and encouragement and grace, without much concern about whether or not we or anyone else are going to be here tomorrow.  It means that love without preconditions is still a better gauge of the state of  your soul than the degree to which you want to leave everyone else behind.

Life is about the joys and sorrows, the messiness, the victories that we experience here – not escaping it all for some mansion in the sky, but making what we have right here, right now better by loving the people we come into contact with.

One day at a time.