It’s become great fodder for jokes. May 21st. End of the world. Judgement Day. One twitter-er suggested a rapture prank: “On Saturday take some of your unwanted clothes and shoes and leave sets of them arranged on sidewalks and yards around town.” Someone else put together a “Will You Be Raptured Flowchart.” It made most of the late night talk shows, including Letterman’s Top Ten List — “How to Make the Apocalypse More Fun.” The list included — #8 All you can eat baby-back ribs with Chili’s Aporkalypse Special; and #7 Instead of Four Horsemen, three horsemen and a monkey riding a dog.
I have to be honest I laughed. But here is the problem, if I’m not careful I can become a “scoffer.” See the Bible is full of language about the end. The people who followed Jesus in the very beginning of our movement often had the end in sight. They thought Jesus was going to return…soon. It’s pretty difficult to be a fully devoted Jesus-follower and not live life in light of the day when we see Christ face to face.
In the first few decades after Jesus’ resurrection — the beginning of our movement — most Jesus-followers spoke of Jesus’ return as being near and as a result there were “scoffers.” Listen to what Peter wrote in his epistle: 2 Peter 3:3-4
3 Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
Scoffers will come who say, “Where is this coming, that Jesus promised? Everything keeps on keeping on since the beginning of time.” If we are not careful, Mr. Camping’s end-time predictions can turn even the best Christian into a scoffer. So what is the antidote for scoffing? 2 Peter 3:8
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
The antidote for scoffing is the reminder of the heart of God, that leads him to patience. He is not slow in keeping his promise, he is patient — because of his love. So here is what I’m thinking — to all those Christians out there, like me, who are scoffing a bit about the nearness of Christ’s return, a challenge. When May 22nd rolls around and we are still on the ground — find someone and share with them the heart of Jesus.