Crackpots, Mayans, and What the Rest of Us Should Do

Homer Simpson, prophet.

The world is coming to an end. And I’m not just saying that because gas prices are as ridiculous as our government. We really are heading for an old-fashioned, kick-the-tires and light-the-fires end-of-all-that’s-good-and-holy apocalypse.

The only question, it seems, is when?

A little disclosure: as a Christian, I sincerely believe that one day this world will come to an end, and a new world will be brought into being by the Almighty God. Some people call it crackpottery, others call it delusional wish-fulfillment, but I call it faith and have no problem sharing why I believe it.

Now, before you go shutting me up in the nuthouse, take a moment to realize that it’s not just Christians who are into the end-of-the-world predictions. Whether you’re one of the many who go in for Universal Entropy, or the self-inflicted wounds of humankind (greenhouse gases, global warming, Lady Gaga), there are lots of folks in the “we’re not gonna make it” boat. We seem to feel, as a species, the finiteness of our days, and we worry (justifiably) about what will happen when we reach that particular moment in time. And the fact that most people believe the end is out there but unknown leaves us with a certain amount of tension.

Enter the Mayans. They had a calendar that predicted the world would end in 2012 (though some now suggest we’ve been reading that calendar wrong, and the date is a little later than previously thought – which is good news for those of you who just bought homes). Now, if you’ve ever been to Barnes and Noble store, you know that calendars are a dime a dozen, and most have pictures of cute cats or scantily clad ladies in them to get your attention. The Mayan calendar just has a bunch of dates. So they did what anyone with a PR issue would do: they went Hollywood.

Suddenly, everyone’s talking about the Mayan calendar. Everyone’s talking about the world ending in 2012. Tension relieved. Timeline set. More people decide to rent.

But lately, a small Southern radio network (an aside – a question I would love to ask God: why do these kind of nuts always have to be from the South? Can’t we get crazy religious Yankees for a change?) has been making headlines with their claim that the Bible clearly states that all Christians will be raptured on May 21, with the world coming to a definitive end on October 21, 2011.

They blog. They billboard. They broadcast. They are adamant about this.

And, strangely, they’re still accepting donations to get the word out.

As a Christian, part of me understands their desire to get the message of Christ’s return out to the masses. I can see that their belief is so strong and so sure that they are willing to risk humiliation and degradation to save souls. I can appreciate their passion.

But it’s their arrogance that smacks me in the face. The Bible says that only God knows when the world will come to an end, and that even the Son of God, Jesus Christ Himself, didn’t know the day or the hour (Mark 13:32). And yet these folks are saying that, through their diligence and study of the Bible, they have discovered the secret mathematical formula for determining all end time events.

And the formula for Coca-Cola as well.

Seriously – don’t listen to stuff like this. Don’t pay attention to the hyper-crackpots among us who insist on sowing fear and pestilence into the souls of others, no matter how noble their reasons might be. The world is coming to an end, but as Jesus pointed out in His sermon on the mount, worrying about it ain’t gonna do much for you:

“So don’t worry, saying ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ For the idolaters eagerly seek all these things, and your heavenly father knows you need them. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Therefore, don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matthew 6:31-34)

Honestly – if we’re going to listen to an authoritative voice on what God’s thinking, aren’t we better off listening to Jesus?

*Special thanks to Scott Garner for the inspiration on this post. Though we may be far apart on our beliefs, his wit and candor on this inspired me.

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