Flipping through the channels last evening, I happened upon a portly televangelist from Texas. His sermon title was something like, WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT? Being one who studies the world of televangelism, I stopped to listen.
The sermon, one in which I've heard hundreds of times, was about the end times. It begins with the rapture of the church and ends with The Great White Throne Judgment and an eternity of peace upon an earth that has been remade by God. In between these two events, you can expect seven years of tribulation (Hell on earth) and all sorts of cataclysmic events the world has never seen. Most of the world's population, according to this pastor's interpretation of the Bible, is doomed for Hell. Unless you're one of the lucky ones to make the rapture of the church, your chances of making Heaven are slim to none.
I have to tell you, the goosebumps invaded every part of my body. Old familiar goosebumps. Like I said, I've been exposed to this doctrine all my life. It may sound crazy, but I'm a believer in this end time message. My only problem was with the way in which it was delivered. Steeped in fear and intimidation, the message made me feel like I needed to move to Texas and join his church in order to make the rapture.
ding ding ding ding ding ding ding!
I wonder how many have actually done that? Scare 'em-to-death religion rakes in the members and their money. I'm not a believer when it comes to holding people over Hell. In fact, I'm rather sick of it. I lived in that mess most of my childhood and during my young adult life, and I wish I would've flipped the channel right past that pastor. But, I didn't. I wanted to hear if the message had changed much. It hasn't. It's pretty much the same.
I think what bothered me the most about his sermon, was that there was NOTHING about how to become one of the lucky ones and escape what was coming. How do you make the rapture? What qualifies you? Christianity, salvation, living a perfect life before God, is what this pastor would say. Sin will not enter in, I've been told. And then we can get into another long discussion about sin. Do people sin every day, whether they want to or not? If so, you better hope you're not sinning when the trumpet sounds, eh? And then there's the controversy that you have to speak in tongues to make the rapture. Oh yes, true. The list goes on and on, and I wonder - does anybody really know how much of a saint we have to be?
We can worry ourselves into such a tizzy about making Heaven we're no earthly good.
In my own humble opinion, I think it comes down to faith. It takes more than being a good person, I know that. One must believe in the sovereignty of God and that His word is true. I know that too. I believe in all the signs and prophecies, and I believe God's love covers it all. It will happen someday, and we may well be the generation to see it. But I'm not going to live in a religious world full of fear ever again. Nor will I subject myself to the fist of some pious pastor pounding on his pulpit, screaming at me. Never again.
I plan to make Heaven. But I don't need to be screamed at and threatened all the way to the pearly gates. And neither do you.
My answer for you is to become a seeker. Search the scriptures for yourself. Let the voice of God become real in your own life, and open your heart to hear Him. It is a scary future we're facing, I agree, but instead of fearing it - embrace it. Ask God to show you the way. I believe He'll do it with love, for you to accept it or not. He gives you the choice. He's like that. For now, at least. During this dispensation of grace that we live in. At least for now, you don't have to be screamed at.
Blessings to you and yours.