Theological Chicken Little: Well, That Was Awkward!
I wonder how many hungry people could have been fed with the three million dollars some of our Christian siblings spent in recent months to put up billboards announcing that the Rapture was coming on May 21? Well, on Sunday morning, the 22nd, all of us still gathered for worship. Did we just get left behind? If we did, so did they.
This morning someone has put up a billboard that says, simply, “That was awkward.” It then quotes Mat. 24.36, that, “No one knows the day or the hour.” … GREAT billboard!
Let me go back to a sermon I preached about a year ago: The Bible’s bottom line affirmation about “the end” is the same as it’s affirmation of the creation and of human kind at the beginning. God is still here, and will always be. God has not, and will not, abandon the project of creation. God is working with a goal in mind – a time of no tears. And absolutely nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ. Despite all evidence to the contrary, the good is going to prevail.
Now, I realize that’s not going to sell many books, and I realize it reduces the power of those who have secret knowledge and can show you formulas and charts which basically say that our current enemies are really our ultimate enemies. But truth has a way of being a lot less sexy and a lot less lucrative. It also has a way of being a whole lot better news!
That sermon was about John’s Revelation, the Bible’s last book and one of the primary sources for the tabloid theologians and purveyors of junk prophecy. The crazy thing about the Revelation, I said that Sunday, is that it doesn’t give up on this world. If you’ll actually read it, you’ll find that, in it, God doesn’t give up on us. In the end, we find justice is restored, we find God comes to be with those who have suffered the most, and we find that God comes not as some grand military dictator grinding folks to dust, but as one who will gently “wipe every tear.”
Biblical talk of The End is really talk of the reinstatement of the original purposes for which the world was created. Genesis 1 and 2 are very different stories of the beginning. But in both God creates a peaceful, joyful place and people intimately connected to each other, and to God, and to their life purpose. The people have a mandate to create and cultivate, to expand culture and to create goods. Much of the rest of the story is, then, about how we proceed to mess all of that up and about how God nevertheless provides a way out of our mess. But the point is that Genesis begins in a perfect place with connection to God and connection to each other and a calling (our role, our life’s work as a species) to be creative of divine culture.
Look at Revelation, really read it, and see its culmination in Rev. 21, and there you see the very same things you see in Gen. 1 and 2—a joyful place, true community, a very whole, very new city, and fully human lives. The really good news of God in Christ is designed to re-connect us to reality, to the good creation we’ve messed up. And in the end, by the grace of God alone, we’ll be “back to the future,” so to speak—that is, fully human. Wow! and Double WOW! That’s great news.
Maybe if we quit buying their books these theological Chicken Littles will go away… Probably not, but we can at least hope. Until then, we’ll keep putting up the signs on the day AFTER, saying “That was awkward.”
And I’ll see you and your guest next Sunday. To prepare please read Jn. 14.15- 21.