Several people have asked if I believe that this, May 21, 2011, is the day when Jesus is coming to take home all those who believe in him. One of our values at DisciplesNet is trying to see beyond overly simplified two sides of things. We try hard not to look at people, situations, and issues in either-or, in-out, black-white terms, but full color instead. We believe this makes working together more civil and effective, with less emphasis on who is right and wrong and who wins and who loses.
So in this manner, I do respect the thinking of those who believe that the world as we know it will end today, and the passion for which they are hoping to help people come to know God before all of this happens. They could have the day pegged. The coming to know God and God's desires for us certainly is of critical importance. Some people have ridiculed this group for living out this belief, and have turned it into a win-lose situation where one side will say ‘gotcha,’ dependant upon where God’s people are or are not laying down their heads as May 21, 2011 comes to a close.
God gave us minds to think with—intelligent minds in God’s likeness—and I believe God's intention is for us to use them constantly and collectively. Our job may not be to get overly concerned in saying if others are “right or wrong” today. None of us is that judge. Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32 record Jesus saying, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
Some believe this means that the time has not been set—that God will do what God wants when God wants. Others see it as a closely guarded secret to which they personally may have broken the code. Still others see that the meaning of the coming realm of God is not exactly as it is depicted in all the movies, that the coming is far different than our human minds can fathom to put in a time prediction or movie depiction.
So, I am more inclined to hang my hat on the, “no one knows the hour or the time,” than upon the claims of someone who is very well-meaning, but may be putting his eggs in the wrong basket.
Whether Jesus comes to take us all home at once some day, or for now, one by one as our individual times come to an end here on earth, I see the most important thing is to be busy doing God's work. Then it will not matter when or how it happens. When you look up and see Jesus' face then, it will not be a cause for unfamiliarity, or to be shocked or startled, but simply seeing the face of an old friend that you have been working shoulder to shoulder with all along. But yes, when we do get home and see the place God has prepared for us, none of us can imagine how much beyond the “Oh My!” it will be.
How do we live then in the here and now? My sense is a strong one that we are not to stay sitting by the door with our bags packed, ignoring the people who are hurting all around us. This applies whether we are thinking about a mass exodus of believers on a day like May 21, or we are one who has reached that point in life through illness, age, despair or other, where we see ourselves as so weary, worn out and washed up that we want to give up. That inclination is to just sit there by the door, waiting, waiting for God to take us.
Even in these times, especially in these times, perhaps, Jesus is calling us to serve as in Matthew 25: 31-46: "For I was hungry and you fed me...." Feeding others has so many forms. This teaching may have its greatest meaning in the times we are wanting most to be preoccupied with our own lives and in saving ourselves.
Some of the mentors and role models who have inspired me most in life are those who have, in running that great race, seem to have sprinted with every ounce they had left within them all the way through the finish line, into the waiting arms of their God and their Savior.
Peace and blessings to you on this day, and all of your days. However many they may be, may you live them fully, in God's love and grace, with that sense of peace that surpasses all understanding.
Pastor Deb Phelps
Deb Phelps is Senior Minister of DisciplesNet Church, and an ordained minister with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).