COLLATERAL DAMAGE – JUDGMENT DAY PREDICTIONS

“Collateral damage” is a phrase we use to refer to the casualties and destruction that accompany a battle. Generals plan campaigns against the enemy or battle objectives but in this close packed world, they cannot plan away the damage done to the innocent or the loss of what was in the path of their objective.

I have been troubled by the wanton disregard for scripture that Harold Campling and his people have engaged in as they have promoted May 21st as the end of the world. I have also grieved the ridicule that they have brought upon the Christian community that legitimately believes that there is a Judgement Day which we all must face. This blog post by John Michael Turner speaks to this issue with eloquence and accuracy. – Steve

A BLOG POST: 11 days until Judgment Day (and I’m not laughing)

May 9, 2011

I’ve only mentioned this “End of the World” story once or twice on my blog.

But now that the “End of the World” is less than two weeks away, I thought it was time to mention it again.

Why mention it now?

You might assume that I’m mentioning it so we can all have a good hardy laugh and poke fun at the Christian crazies who believe that Judgment Day is coming on May 21…

But that’s actually not true. Not this time.

While I do believe that those who are putting a date on Judgment Day are incorrect, I don’t believe they are crazy, at least, not crazy like Mel Gibson was crazy in the movie Conspiracy Theory and not crazy like Mel Gibson was crazy in 2007 and then again in 2010. For me to believe that those who suggest May 21 is THE END are crazy is to also believe that members of my childhood church (including me!) were crazy in 1987 when we believed beyond any doubt that Jesus was coming back in 1988.

And we weren’t crazy. We were misguided, misinformed, naive, and certainly a bit sheltered. But we weren’t crazy. We had our reasons for believing that Jesus was coming back in 1988. Our reasons were biblical. We were convinced that the doctrine that supported such claims was sound and good and 100% true.

And while I don’t know any “Judgment Day” supporters personally, my guess is that they, too, believe that their reasons for believing THE END is coming are biblical and sound and good and 100% true.

Chances are, May 21 will come and go like any other day. And when we wake up on May 22, the leaders of this “Judgment Day” movement will have a perfectly “biblical” explanation why all of us aren’t standing before God preparing to be judged. In fact, I’ve already read a couple blog posts suggesting that May 21st isn’t actually “Judgment Day,” but the beginning of the end…

And I know that so many people are going to poke fun at those who believe in “Judgment Day”. And rightly so. But I won’t be one of them. I’m not saying that I won’t Tweet a punch line or two. But my jokes won’t be personal attacks on the May 21st believers.

Why?

Because there’s nothing funny about being misled, misguided, naive, and sheltered.

Because there’s nothing funny about kids believing and anticipating THE END. And while I know that the kids who believe in May 21st have what they consider to be “great faith in Jesus,”–trust me, they are scared. They’re nervous. Some of them aren’t sleeping. They’re asking lots of questions. They’re hoping that it isn’t true. But they believe it is.

And on May 22, while those of us who think that the MAY 21 CHRISTIANS are crazy will probably be laughing or poking fun or explaining what WE believe to be biblical reasons why they shouldn’t have put a date on God’s Judgment, the MAY 21st KIDS will be facing their “day of reckoning,” waking up to realize that their parents, pastors, and theologies were wrong. Many of those kids will lose something that day. The questions that many of them will ask will get answered with lies and excuses and bad biblical reasoning. Some of them will be angry with God for not bringing about Judgment Day. Some of them will lose their faith and yet be unable to escape it. And some of them will go on like nothing happened and probably end up setting and believing in another “date”.

And there’s nothing funny about that…

“Collateral damage” is a phrase we use to refer to the casualties and destruction that accompany a battle.  Generals plan campaigns against the enemy or battle objectives but in this close packed world, they cannot plan away the damage done to the innocent or the loss of what was in the path of their objective.

I have been troubled by the wanton disregard for scripture that Harold Campling and his people have engaged in as they have promoted May 21st as the end of the world.  I have also grieved the ridicule that they have brought upon the Christian community that legitimately believes that there is a Judgement Day which we all must face.  This blog post by John Michael Turner speaks to this issue with eloquence and accuracy. – Steve

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DO YOU WANT TO REACH YOUR UNCHURCHED NEIGHBORS?

Who are your neighbors?

Increasingly traditional churches cannot answer that question with any specificity.  Some congregations are reverse commuters, returning Sundays and perhaps Wednesdays to gather and worship in a community in which they no longer live.  Other churches live in a bubble of doctrinal isolation (i.e., we do not want to tainted by the world and therefore have little contact) or inward-focused fellowship, spending almost 100% of their time with other church people.  Some congregations are even afraid of their neighbors.  As a result no attempt is made to reach those unchurched neighbors except the billboard or sign out front.

Who are our neighbors?  The scriptures make it very plain – they are the people for whom Christ died and who Christ loves.  Some of them are connected to churches, some are not.  Some are Christians, some are not.  Some are church drop-outs.  Some have absolutely no Christian roots and have barely a clue as to what you do behind closed doors on Sunday morning.

If we think of those neighbors at all, we generalize them as the lost and then act as if they’re not really lost by largely ignoring them.

Do you want to reach your unchurched neighbors?  That is an essential question for every congregation that claims to be an obedient and faithful part of the Body of Christ.

If you truly want to reach your unchurched neighbors, then there some realities you must come to grips with.

1. They are not your enemies, nuisances, nor your project.  These are three perceptions that will drive your neighbors away or create barriers across which they will never pass.  They may not like your faith nor approve of it, but if you see them as your enemies and approach them as such, they will fight back.  They are not persons who get in the way of your ministry. They are people who need your ministry.  Reaching them is far more important than all the church suppers, small group Bible studies, and projects your church may pour its energy into.  They are not a project, a number to be counted, a victory to be one.  They are people, created in the image of God, loved and respected because Christ died for them.  They are people who need a relationship with Jesus Christ and with you, the Body.

2. They have needs that you must first understand and then respond to in the name of Christ.  Too many of us do not know our neighbors well enough to know their needs, let alone address those needs.  We often assume we know them, but that usually leads to assuming they are like us and just need to be persuaded to behave as such.  If you don’t build relationships, listen, and seek to understand–you will not reach your neighbors effectively.

3.  They are have values and dreams.  You may think those values to be sinful or their dreams to be shallow; but you do not build a redemptive relationship with people who you do not respect in some way.

There’s more to be said on this subject, but for now; know that if you want to reach your unchurched neighbors, you will have to begin thinking in new ways.

(C) 2011 by Stephen L Dunn