Even kooks can serve a purpose. Take Harold Camping, just the latest in a long line of Christian kooks who have populated the landscape for the past 2000 years. Camping’s prediction that the rapture would take place on May 21, 2011 stirred up all kinds of interest from secular and religious sources alike.
Overwhelmingly there were two reactions. Either people laughed hysterically at yet another weirdo proclaiming doomsday (these were the secular pundits), or they apologized profusely for someone who clearly never read the verse where Jesus says nobody knows the hour or the day when he will return (these would be the Christian apologists).
I’ve got a slightly different take on the whole Harold Camping affair: What it he had been right? What if Jesus really had returned on May 21? Now, please hear me. I’m not suggesting that the old kook was correct, but there was a chance that his lamebrain prediction and the actual parousia could have happened on the same day.
(Actually, for the record, if I were in God’s shoes, even if Camping had lucked out and picked the right day for the return of Jesus, I would have changed it just because of his prediction. At the same time, I would have snatched just Harold Camping and left the rest of us alone. After all, he is 89, and now he's reset judgment day for October 21, 2011, so why not immediately fulfill his desire to see the Lord?)
The thing is, we who believe in the certain return of Christ have become a little too complacent and comfortable with this world, to the point where we have more or less forgotten this basic fact about the Second Coming: it could happen anytime. It really could happen today.
Jesus was clear about this when he told his followers: “Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come” (Mark 13:33). I don’t know about you, but I’m not on guard all that much, and my alert level is about a 2 on a scale of 10.
So who’s closer to the truth? Kooky Harold Camping, who at least acts as if the Second Coming is coming soon, or complacent me, who has become so comfortable with my earthly home that I’ve lost my longing for my permanent one. I’ve forgotten that my true citizenship is in heaven, and as a result I don't spend a whole lot of time eagerly waiting “for a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).
Just this morning as I was reflecting on all of this, I found this passage from the Psalms. It encouraged me and challenged me to spend a little more time each day waiting for Jesus, and to daily reflect, if only for a moment, that today really could be the day.
I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his
word I put my hope. I wait for the Lord
So thanks, Harold Camping. You may be a kook, but at least you made me think about the Second Coming a lot more, and that's not such a kooky thing.