Well, we are still here. Howard Camping, the US Pastor who prophesied that that the end of the world would come on Saturday evening, was wrong. Of course, predictions like this do not have a good track record: in fact they have a 100% failure rate. But Rev. Camping was wrong on more levels than just his accuracy. Predictions like this directly contradict the instructions of the person that Christians claim to follow (See Jesus’ words in Acts 1:7). Rev. Camping has made himself, and his devoted followers, look very silly.
The prediction did create some positive spin-offs in the shape of some good jokes e.g. “I’ve just seen a man on a tractor shouting ‘The end is nigh!’ I think it was Farmer Geddon”
However the ridicule that Rev. Camping has provoked does mask a serious issue – because however unpopular, the concept of judgement is vitally important. The word ‘apocalypse’ actually means ‘an unveiling’. An unveiling happens when things which are hidden become seen and acknowledged. No one can fully control their own destiny – no one can predict when their world may get turned upside down, either through accident, turn of events, or when the consequences of our actions come home to roost.
Sometimes, it’s positive things that are unveiled such the courage and compassion of Nabil Ahmed, the orphan who has cared for his two disabled brothers. Nabil featured on the front page of the London Evening Standard this week as he visited the Prime Minister at No.10. Nabil’s life has been exposed in the media for doing good – for showing selfless love and care despite all the disadvantages he has faced.
Sadly, it’s completely the opposite for Ryan Giggs, someone for whom life has dealt a very different hand. Like so many other celebrities before him, he has had to face a very public unveiling this week as the reality of his unfaithfulness to his wife and family have become known.
In our culture today its very difficult to talk about ‘judgement’ without sounding like a wacky street preacher. But we cannot believe in God of justice without believing in some form of judgement. I think its helpful to think of judgement as the full unveiling of everything – the good, the bad and the ugly. God will measure our lives – and I for one know there are plenty of things that I don’t want unveiled. But this is why no one can boast or be judgmental, because all of us are in need of God’s love, grace and forgiveness.