“Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains” (Matthew 24:4-8, NIV).
If you are reading this then you already know the world did not come to an end on May 21, 2011. In his zeal for Christ, California preacher Harold Camping, the president of the multi-million dollar non-profit broadcasting network and website Family Radio, slipped into leaning towards his own understanding. This tends to happen to those who amass great fortunes and adulation. No doubt, the praise he receives from his fans and followers moved him to sincerely want to gain a deeper understanding of the Bible outside of Christ’s teachings. In doing so, he and many, many other End of Days prophets have discredited the words of Christ and therefore God: “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Matthew 24:36, NIV). These words, as in everything Jesus taught, should be engraved in our hearts and believed unconditionally. Also, these words alone should be enough to prevent Christians from taxing their energies on predicting the end of the world and instead push us to dedicating ourselves to the tasks with which we are charged: Spreading the Good News across the world and tending the vineyard, i.e. guiding, teaching and loving believers and non-believers alike in hopes of bringing them closer to God.
For Camping’s followers: While it is good to respect and honor our pastors and preachers, remember we should never follow men, only God. As Jesus instructed the religious leaders, “But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi’ for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father’ for you have one Father, and He is in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘teacher, for you have one Teacher, the Christ. The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:8-12). Don’t let today’s non-event harden your hearts towards Christianity or Christian leadership. Christian leaders hold a great responsibility to accurately and honestly relay the Word, but we, as Christians, also have the responsibility of studying the Word for ourselves. When we do, we are not easily swayed or led astray.
For as much as we should be skeptical of Camping’s Doomsday predictions, the mocking and indifference being shown by the vast majority is troubling. Christ will return and “at that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all nations of earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a loud trumpet call and they will gather His elect from the winds, from one end of heavens to the other….Therefore keep watch because you do not know on what day your Lord will come . But do understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you must also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect Him” (Matthew 24:30-31, 42-44, NIV).
While it is of this world to ridicule those who truly believed Camping’s prediction of the End, he and his followers need our compassion and guidance. Discipline, if any, will come from God.