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After the rapture, who will walk your dog?

Is anyone surprised by the events of today (Saturday, May 21)?

I don’t mean the fact that everyone is still here on earth (i.e., the 200 million people Harold Camping predicted would go to heaven). No one should have taken him seriously, his credibility was shot. He had already erroneously predicted the return of Jesus in 1994. Then there’s the small fact that the concept of the rapture is at odds with the Scripture's teaching (see 1 Corinthians 15:23-24).

No, what I’m referring to is the field day the national media had with all of this. NPR devoted over five minutes of air time on Weekend Edition, while All Things Considered ran another also five minute piece that in essence, mocked God (After the Rapture, Who Will Walk Your Dog?). In it, a service was profiled that will take care of pets belonging to the people who believe they will be raptured. The service employs people who are asked to blaspheme God in order to ensure they will remain on earth and provide pet care.

Is that supposed to be funny? or newsworthy? Do you think they could have gotten away with running a piece where the employers asked the employees to speak against homosexuals?

Welcome to 2011 in America. The fact that a decade ago this would have been fodder for Saturday Night Live but is now part of a mainstream news show, demonstrates how diseased our country’s soul has become. Our national media seem to relish the opportunity to give inordinate publicity to a few misguided believers. Who can forget the international event created by the publicity they gave to Terry Jones when he threatened to burn the Koran? They seem intent upon focusing upon the fringe in an effort to discredit all of Christianity. We hear no reports of Christians feeding the hungry, building hospitals, or taking care of the homeless --- only the bizarre behaviors of a few on the fringe. 

And it seems to be achieving some success. Here are a few responses I found immediately following the article:

  • I just LOVE seeing the christians squirm and demur when pointing to the differences between themselves and "these Lunatics!" Seems to me that the whole BUNCH of you are delusional!
  • Religious people suffer from schizophrenia. They are mentally unstable, delusional, paranoid, and suffer for megalomania, they are truly mentally ill.
  • We need a serious study looking at the neurological underpinnings behind religiosity.
    For example, Robert Sapolsky has fascinating data showing that people carrying a gene associated with schizophrenia are statistically many times more likely to rate themselves as very religious, as compared to a control group.
    Another example is the "god helmet" - it turns out that stimulating certain areas of the brain with powerful electromagnets reliably produces an uncanny feeling of supernatural / religious experience in participants.
    Maybe there are very solid, neurological reasons why people believe goofy things.

We need to formulate a response strategy because this is not going away. If we thought it was difficult for us growing up as a Christian, it’s going to be even tougher for our children and grandchildren. The foundations of our culture have become more anti-Christian that at any time in our nation’s history. Let me suggest a few things.

Let's choose our battles wisely.
Let’s face it, a lot of the negative, inflammatory things we hear come from the ignorant and the immature. (In fairness, a lot of the negative, inflammatory things non-believers hear come from ignorant and immature disciples). If we respond to everything, we’ll quickly develop the reputation of being people who like to quarrel (2 Timothy 2:23-24), and that won’t be good for anyone. We need to be discerning so we don't major in minors.  It's beyond ridiculous to hear Christians arguing about something like the age of the earth when the Bible never addresses the matter.
 
Listen carefully and speak thoughtfully.
We need to listen to people so that we can identify the real issues they have rather than the ones we might be tempted to stereotype them with. We also need to know what the Scriptures teach and be able to articulate that in a way that outsiders can understand. I’m convinced that too often we supply people with conclusions without bothering to explain our premises and confusion is the predictable result. 
 
Live well
Serving others, being merciful, and humble --- this sets the context for our speech. If we’re not living this way, even if we’re speaking the truth, no one will be listening.
 
To sum up, listen to the words of Peter that were written to Christians living under extremely difficult circumstances (Nero's reign).  I think they speak volumes to us today.
 
"But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect," (1 Peter 3:15).
 
We can do this and we must!
 
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