|Regeneration by Noell Grace|
On May 22, 2011, the Associated Press published an essay by Ted Anthony called “Apocalypse Not Now and How We Saw It.” The essay is a response to the highly publicized prediction made by one Rev. Harold Camping that May 21, 2011, would be Judgment Day. Anthony allows that Camping and his followers had good reason to suspect that the Apocalypse is near, considering the current state of the world. Anthony points out: “Less than five months old, 2011 has already brought us a cataclysmic earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis in Japan, another tremor in New Zealand, major tornadoes in the American heartland and, on Saturday, a volcano eruption in Iceland. Manmade events, from the uprisings in the Mideast to the killing of Osama bin Laden to the ongoing struggle of the global economy, also contribute to the sense that things are moving at a dizzying pace.”
Yes, changes are occurring at a dizzying pace. Those who are familiar with biblical prophecy can’t help but remember Jesus’ warning that wars, earthquakes, and famine will herald the beginning of the end. As Anthony says in his essay, Camping’s prophecy got many people to think about the possible end of the world and whether or not they are ready to face it. As to what is going to happen when, we will just have to wait and wonder.
Those who believe that an angry God is going to punish humanity by destroying the earth will wait as they focus on worldwide violence and disasters. Those who believe the world will just keep on without any divine interference will also continue to dwell on these horrors. Jesus foretold that these events “are just the beginning of the birth pangs” (Mark 13:8). So some are waiting, not just for the end of the old world, but the birth of a new one. Some realize that they must do more than wait; that they are to be active participants in the transition to a new and better world. They recognize that the increasing number of natural disasters is the earth’s way of cleansing herself of the toxins humanity has defiled her with. These people act as midwives to the new world’s birth by treating the earth and its citizens with care and goodwill.
Violence and disasters can fill us with horror, or they can move us to compassionate action and prayer. The midwives of the new world see the same violence, oppression, and self-centeredness that others see. But instead of helplessly waiting for a vengeful God to rid the earth of all wrong-doers, they cooperate with a loving Creator to help bring about peaceful changes. There are many ways to participate in the transformation of the world from an ego-centered hell to a heart-centered paradise. When we focus ourselves in love, we know what to do. And when we live from our hearts, we have no reason to fear “Judgment Day.”
One columnist’s tongue-in-cheek response to Camping’s failed prophecy was to say, “just in case” Judgment Day is coming: “I do believe, I do believe, I do believe . . . in whatever it is I have to believe to be saved!” His words echo the sentiments of those fear-centered people who choose what they hope is the "right" religion in order to ensure their salvation. I would like to comfort these people by telling them: It is not so much what we believe that is important, but the way we believe and the way we lead our lives. I would point out this Bible verse: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:18). The coming new world will be made perfect in love. As we follow the way of love, we begin to taste the joy-filled life that we will know every day when the new world is born.