My primary job this summer is to bond with and take care of my 5-month-old son. As I rocked him to sleep yesterday afternoon, I turned on TBN (Trinity Broadcasting Network) to see what the face of Christianity looks like to the millions at home watching TV and happening upon this giant Christian network.
What I got was "Rapture ready." This is the calling card of TV preacher Rod Parsley on his program, Breakthrough. In the future, maybe a long post on the idea of the Rapture can happen, but for today let's simply think about where this puts the focus of our faith: the end of time. It seems to me that a lot of TV preachers have two foci: earthly material wealth and "being saved" from hell. Where do these ideas put the focus of our faith? MY material wealth in this life and MY personal salvation are right up front. Of course, most preachers also focus on converting others so that they can have wealth and be saved, but the engine that drives all of this is self-aggrandizement and self-preservation.
I am not degrading the value of a good life or eternal life, but were these the greatest concerns of Jesus? Of Paul? I would argue that they were not. In fact, the focus of Christ seemed to be giving up material wealth. Certainly, personal salvation was extremely important, but personal salvation in the context of how that transforms our lives and our priorities, not simply how it saves us from hell.
Are we saved? If so, praise be to God for eternal life. But, does that not have a massive impact on how we live NOW?
I believe it does, and it has little to do with accumulating cars, houses, or blessing me with $35,000 if I pray for 10 people. There is a good deal of patient endurance in Christ, of struggling with brothers and sisters in Christ, of showing Christ to others in word and deed, and of constantly challenging ourselves and others to conform more to His likeness.
More on the (lack of a) Rapture (a word that does not appear in the Bible, and a word that is rooted in Latin, not Hebrew or Greek) another day.
Oh, and today, make sure you are Rapture ready.