Just under two years ago, the Western world was reeling at Harold Camping’s prediction of the end of the world–reeling with laughter, that is. Once again the professing Bible believer had calculated the date of Christ’s return, a date which obviously came and went without a single Camping follower meeting Jesus in the air or a single coal of fire igniting an all consuming fire.
To make matters worse, that latest was a re-calibration of an earlier May 21 failed prediction which was a re-calibration of the one he made in 1988. When the third prophetic pronouncement yielded nothing but scorn, Camping admitted he had been wrong. Some even said he apologized since a number of his followers had reportedly sold their possessions to help fund the ad campaign to get the word out.
Others like myself didn’t see an apology in what he said, but perhaps his “I was wrong” actually meant “I’m sorry I led so many astray with my sinful, prideful, false prophecies.”
The 90-year-old broadcaster told his listeners that the Rapture did not occur October 21 because it was ultimately God’s will. “He could have stopped everything if He had wanted to,” he said. (“Camping Apologizes”)
What goaded me then and what has stuck with me for the past two years is this implication that God was at fault for not stopping him. His “confession,” in my opinion, was akin to Adam’s: “The woman YOU gave me handed me the fruit and I ate” (OK, I admit, my paraphrase and my emphasis).
This thinking, however, actually mirrors some of the reasoning of those who reject God. If He was all powerful, they say, He could stop wars and gang violence and cure cancer and pretty much all forms of suffering, sickness, pain, and death.
Except, God told Adam not to eat of that tree because if he did, if he so much as touched it, he would die.
So Adam sinned, but it’s God’s fault.
On the flip side are Christians who take the “let go and let God approach.” I don’t want to misrepresent this position because I know godly Christians who genuinely believe that they must only wait on God, and He will stir them to action.
My problem with that centers on the fact that every believer who has a nine-to-five job seems stirred to action when the alarm goes off at six each morning. Why would it be wrong for someone not under a time requirement to be stirred by the same godly motivation–responsibility?
We should be obedient to love our neighbors. No one makes us, though. We won’t get fired if we don’t welcome someone new or share with the person in need or pray for the one in the hospital. So we wait for God to prompt us, to give us the nudge by His Spirit.
However, I submit, it is sinful for us to wait for God to move us to do what He’s already told us to take care of.
It’s as sinful for Harold Camping to say, God didn’t stop me as it is for other Christians to say, God didn’t start me.
The truth is, God did stop Mr. Camping. Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32 tell us that no one knows the day or the hour of Christ’s return. Yet Mr. Camping felt compelled to do his special calculations to figure out the day, at least, if not the hour. Why would he say God didn’t stop him when he clearly ran right through God’s stop sign?
And those who are waiting on God’s special nudge to do what He’s told us to do–whether it’s to love our neighbor or honor our parents or work with our hands or season our speech with grace or forgive our enemies or a host of things–these folks, it seems to me, are sitting at a green light with their engines running and a full tank of gas, waiting for God’s special invitation above and beyond that green light He gave in Scripture.
Go into all the world and preach the gospel, He says in Mark 16:15. Preach with our lives, with our speech, with our writing, with our good deeds even, Peter says. So why are we waiting for a special invitation from the Holy Spirit, to do what God told us to do in His Word?