I am hoping now that the infamous May 21 “doomsday” deadline has come and gone, we can return to a sense of normalcy in our lives. It makes me frustrated when Christian teachings are distorted in order to frighten and cajole people. I ran into someone at the market quaking with fear today! This isn't right, folks. And what is worse, these ‘doomsday prophets’ seem to actually be ‘doomsday profiteers,’ who are raking in millions from the fear they inspire in others.
Let me be frank: God is Good. All the time. Period.
There is not, and never will be, any doomsday.
Let me be frank again: There is no doom.
The Second Coming of Jesus Christ is not and will never be a doomsday. Every year on December 25th we celebrate the First Coming of Jesus Christ, and that day is Christmas! Christmas is a time of great celebration, jubilation, the exchange of gifts, and a time to reconnect with family. Most people get to take that day off work—even non-Christians! What a boon to all!
When the First Coming of Jesus is such Good News and so much fun, why on earth would the Second Coming be so terrible? The Second Coming will be a Fantastic Day! This will be a day when all wounds will be healed and peace will reign. This day will not be about the petty vindication of one group of people against another. This day will be about no more wars, no more abuses, no more ‘powers’ of pain or destruction. This day will mean a healed and restored world. There are many who believe that this kingdom is, in fact, here and now. We have just not yet seen the fullness of the final outcome.
So, what about all this awful talk about doom and judgment, then? The problem with the word ‘judgment’ is how the word can be used. When people say “You will be judged” they use their meanest tones of voice and are usually wagging a finger while they are at it. "THOSE people will 'get theirs,'" these misguided people seem to say. "THOSE people will be sorry then." And in speaking, the misguided almost seem to enjoy the horrors they can imagine will happen. But folks, hear me: This is a human attitude, not a divine one. This is a perspective based in retribution and has nothing to do with divine ‘judgment.’ Finger-waggers and those who get glee from the thought of large-scale suffering of others are people trapped in their own anger, fear, and pain. Pray for them.
God is Good. All the time. A Good God does not “judge” with a wagging human finger nor does God chortle with glee at the thought of someone else’s punishment. We humans do that; God does not. The word ‘Judge’ means “to set things right” or “procure justice.” When God judges, it means God sets things right. Think about it. If you have a court case or are summoned before a Court of Law in your town, don’t you want and expect a fair hearing? Don’t you want things to be set right? Aren’t you hoping for Justice? If a Judge acts too harshly, or ignores you, don’t you consider that a miscarriage of justice? Well, God does not miscarry justice! God GIVES justice. God sets things right.
Please, do not let people terrorize you or your children in the name of Jesus Christ. Do not perpetuate this terror by passing it along to others.
Here’s a little history.
The apostle Paul believed the end of the world was coming. Many did during the 1st century because for many life was terrible! Few children lived into adulthood due to disease, malnutrition, war, exposure, and slavery. War, famine, ethnic extermination, exile, slavery, mass murder, mass torture…you name it, it was going on throughout the first century. The city of Jerusalem itself was razed to the ground and its people enslaved, killed, run off. Can you imagine if Washington DC was destroyed, all its people killed or enslaved, and a foreign power declared no American could step foot in it ever again under pain of death? That actually happened in Jerusalem. A massive civil war resulted in a triumphant Roman Army and more than a million died, were enslaved, and were forcibly expelled from their homes. Those who perpetrated the worst of it were often rich and powerful and could not be reached by human hands and made to admit their crimes. There were no 'truth and reconciliation' councils, no 'war crimes' tribunals. The bad guys simply got away with it. The truth about them was never publicly revealed.
In that time of horror, people craved Truth and Justice and Peace.
In such a time of overwhelming catastrophe, people turned to the power of God and Jesus Christ not only to expose wrong-goers but to save the oppressed, release the enslaved, comfort the poor, and to show all people the way to a better life. People turned to God because the problems they struggled under were so big they could not conceive of a human way to ‘set things right.' The faithful called on God to come with the glory (honor!) and the power it would take to reveal the truth in the face of the worst kind of injustices.
Paul believed the end of the world was coming because he and those who followed him lived in the midst of times of horror. But we, we believe the end of the world is coming in the midst of plenty! With shopping malls and grocery stores filled to the brim! We have money to spend on our cars, our hair, our nails, our clothes, our shoes... Folks, do you realize how blessed you are? There are no slaves, and we endeavor always to meet abuses with healing and abusers with accountability. How can it be doomsday??
We are a blessed people. God has richly blessed us with children who grow up! We have chocolate eclairs and ripe growing wheat and seedless watermelon and red-brick universities full of young people ready to tackle the coming needs of our world. We have cinema and Disneyland and electric guitars and fishing on Saturday and redwood forests…. Wow. How amazing is this world God has created!
Stand up and rejoice. Fill your heart with gratitude. Ask God to heal you, fill you, and restore you. Trust God to 'set things right,' right here, right now. Let us serve God. Let us praise God! And let it be known that whatever comes, be it good times or bad times, that God is always with us, and God is always—always, always, always—Good.