My Thoughts On The Rapture
I don’t believe in the rapture.
There I said it.
I know that in some circles what I just said qualifies me as a heretic and dissenter. Yet, I hold to that statement. I don’t believe the rapture is something God would do. I don’t think God would ever abandon his creation or children. I believe salvation has to do as much as with the here-and-now as it does with where we go when we die. I believe that God will always hold the door open for his wayward children to come back to him, to surrender to the Fathers love and grace. I also don’t think that Jesus will come back with a sword and kill so many people that blood will overflow the streets. That’s not the Jesus of the gospels or the Jesus I believe in and have committed my life to. I reject a violent Jesus and embrace the Jesus of the gospels, the Jesus who loves, forgives, and heals.
As Peter Rollins says Jesus so loved the world he forsook heaven.
The Lord’s Prayer says, “Thy Kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” When we pray this we are not asking to escape this world for a heavenly abode—no, we pray that God’s will, God’s justice, the Kingdom of God come to earth that we will be able to live here-and-now, as we will in heaven. We don’t pray away our problems and the world’s evil. We want to be empowered by God to face our problems and the world’s evil, to be the people of the Kingdom standing up against what is wrong and proclaims the good news. The good news is that Jesus died for your sins and wants a personal relationship with you. The good news is that Jesus is saving you from yourself that he loves as you are, but loves you way too much to leave you that way. That is the good news of Jesus Christ.
On Peter Rollins website, he has a parable of the rapture.
Here it is:
“Just as it was written by those prophets of old, the last days of the Earth overflowed with suffering and pain. In those dark days, a huge pale horse rode through the Earth with Death upon its back and Hell in its wake. During this great tribulation the Earth was scorched with the fires of war, rivers ran red with blood, the soil withheld its fruit and disease descended like a mist. One by one all the nations of the Earth were brought to their knees.
Far from all the suffering, high up in the heavenly realm, God watched the events unfold with a heavy heart. An ominous silence had descended upon heaven as the angels witnessed the Earth being plunged into darkness and despair. But this could only continue for so long for, at the designated time, God stood upright, breathed deeply and addressed the angels,
“The time has now come for me to separate the sheep from the goats, the healthy wheat from the inedible chaff”
Having spoken these words God slowly turned to face the world and called forth to the church with a booming voice,
“Rise up and ascend to heaven all of you who have who have sought to escape the horrors of this world by sheltering beneath my wing. Come to me all who have turned from this suffering world by calling out ‘Lord, Lord’”.
In an instant millions where caught up in the clouds and ascended into the heavenly realm. Leaving the suffering world behind them.
Once this great rapture had taken place God paused for a moment and then addressed the angels, saying,
“It is done; I have separated the people born of my spirit from those who have turned from me. It is time now for us leave this place and take up residence in the Earth; for it is there that we shall find our people. The ones who would forsake heaven in order to embrace the earth. The few who would turn away from eternity itself to serve at the feet of a fragile, broken life that passes from existence in but an instant”.
And so it was that God and the heavenly host left that place to dwell among those who had rooted themselves upon the earth. Quietly supporting the ones who had forsaken God for the world and thus who bore the mark God. The few who had discovered heaven in the very act of forsaking it.”
(You can watch the video of this parable here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m17TZY4amWY)
I can get behind this idea of the rapture. I suspect that when we are hurting God is close to us. It is common to hear people ask where God is when we suffer, God is there right in the midst telling us “it’ll be ok, I’m here.” guiding us through our dark times. When we can look past our little selves and try to soothe the pain and suffering of others we are closet to heaven. In contrast, when we let our selfish inclinations guide us and we think of ourselves before others we choose the hell of me and mine. It is a choice. A choice each of us makes countless times every day. Do we choose the way of Jesus or do we choose our own way. Do we choose heaven or hell? Each of us makes this choice every minute of every day. In Matthew 25, Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” Next time you encounter a homeless man asking for few coins, a lonely person wanting a few moments of your time, a neighbor in need, an hurting person who needs to know someone cares, a lost person needing directions make the choice that will bring God closer to the lives of those involved. It only such little graces to bring a bit of heaven to earth.
Heaven is a place of love, where tears are wiped away, and each person is cared for as a brother and sister. We can have heaven on earth if we are willing to do are part. We can love everyone. We can live the resurrection. We can be a living Christian.
May we who call ourselves Christians, Jesus-followers stand up to be counted as the healthy wheat and be “the few who had discovered heaven in the very act of forsaking it.”
Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. –Matthew 10:38-39