I have been thinking a lot about last Saturday and the heralded "end of the world" scenario which was proclaimed by Harold Camping and his followers. It was the topic of conversation and the butt of jokes among many people, including Christians. I heard my brothers and sisters in Christ quoting familiar Scriptures to friends, family, and co-workers, "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Matthew 24:36) and "Now, brothers, about the times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape." (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3) However, I was literally moved to tears with a news story featuring a man waiting in New York's Times Square to be raptured at 6:00 p.m. The commentator reported that this man, like many of Camping's followers, had spent his life's savings, approximately $140,000. to buy posters and leaflets to hand out to people warning them about what was to come on May 21st. As he stood among the crowd this man was adamant that he would be gone at the stroke of 6:00 p.m. When 6:00 p.m. came and went the crowd began to yell and scream at him, taunting and mocking his prediction. The man remained silent amid the jeers, head bowed, and reading his Bible. The way the crowd berated him was very upsetting but what moved me to tears occurred after I came home and began to pray for this man. The Lord impressed upon my heart that there were probably other Christians among the on lookers in Times Square. These Christians were probably thinking to themselves, "If that guy disappears, I know I'm going with him." However, when the time came and went there may have been a sigh of relief that they didn't let anyone know that they were a follower of Jesus Christ, lest they be branded a "nut case" like this man. And therein lies the problem. No Christians came forward to put an arm around this man and offer to pray for him leading him away from the verbal abuse. The Lord challenged me to ask the question if I were there in Times Square at that moment, what would be my response? I shared with our congregation that our responsibility as Christians is to be healers not hecklers! How or why this man ended up following the teaching of Harold Camping is not relevant but one thing can be said of him is that his zeal for the Lord is strong and I confess he puts me to shame. He believes in Jesus no matter how misguided he may be and Paul exhorts believers to care for their weaker brothers/sisters, "We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves." (Romans 15:1) and "Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (Galatians 6:2) Harold Camping has set a new date for October 21, 2011. So what will be our response? If this man remains a follower of Camping's ministry, he will likely return to Times Square in October. Will someone be moved by the Holy Spirit to comfort him the next time? I pray that the Lord will touch all our hearts with His compassion and love so that we may minister to those who fall.
Peace in Christ,