Eating Chicken Wings With Jesus
I've been watching videos from some of the various and sundry self-proclaimed "Christian prophets," and other assorted internet hucksters who offer up all kinds of odd predictions and prophecies in the name of Jesus.
I have this daydream where Jesus and I are watching this schlock together and he leans over to me and says, "I can't believe these people are actually on my team."
Also, we're eating chicken wings for some reason--really good chicken wings. But I digress...
The prophets that tend to catch my attention more easily are the ones who declare they know when Jesus is going to return, or at the very least can offer a fairly accurate prediction of the event.
Ever since I can remember, these kinds of folks have been seeing the signs of the "end times" in all manner of current events, so it's no surprise that they are ratcheted up over all of the happenings of the past year.
At the heart of all of these predictions is an escapist kind of theology that espouses a belief in what is commonly known in Christian circles as "The Rapture."
The Rapture is the idea that right before the world starts to fall apart, true Christians will be snatched up to heaven by God where they will get a front-row seat to watch all kinds of awfulness happen on earth.
Despite the fact that a vast number of Christians buy into this escapist form of Christian theology, the "theology" of a Rapture wasn't introduced until the late 1800s, and most reputable biblical scholars don't ascribe to it as a biblically-based concept.
Having said all of that, and in spite of all of my issues with this kind of teaching, I have had more than a few moments this tumultuous past year when I wished two things: 1) That it was actually true... 2) That it would happen sooner rather than later...
Seriously, there is so much that is messed up in this world that it's not hard to see why the whole Rapture thing is appealing to a lot of people. But that whole teaching basically negates everything that Jesus taught about his ministry and mission.
Embracing escapist theology essentially absolves you from taking any responsibility for doing all that you can to change the world for the better--to fulfill your calling as God's image-bearer and shalom-bringer here on earth.
The embrace of this theology is at the heart of so much of our environmental woes as well. I mean, who cares about the earth if you are just going to get snatched right the heck out of it?
N.T. Wright recently wrote about this in his book Broken Signposts. He said:
But the answer is that, throughout the Old Testament, the ultimate promise of God was not that one day he would snatch his people away from the present creation so that they could love him somewhere else. The ultimate promise was that he would come and live with them. That is what divine love looks like.
I choose to trust that there will come a time when all things will be made right---when the barriers between our reality and God's will be lifted and God's shalom will permeate all of Creation.
The visions of how that will happen are so varied that it's hard to know for sure what it will look like exactly... but I choose to trust in the inevitability of it.
I also choose to trust that the One who makes all of that happen---the Risen One, the Logos, the Universal Christ, the Second Person of the Trinity--is here now with us, around us, and within us.
For those of us who call ourselves Christians, our journey with Jesus has never included an escape clause. Our home is here. Our calling is here. And listen to me... Heaven will be here, too, if we are willing to help bring it.
In the meantime, let's get to work embodying shalom and letting the image of God within us shine some light. I'll do the same, and I'll also keep dreaming of eating chicken wings with Jesus... someday.
May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.