Well May 21, 2011, 6:00 pm (EST, CST, PST, etc.) came and went without much fanfare. After hearing way too many jokes and puns about being left behind – yes, I added to the l’esprit du jour – I thought it would be only be right to close off this topic with some final reflections.
1. I feel compassion for those who really put their money, time, and even their livelihood into this false prediction. Yes, they were fanatical. Yes, they were wrong. Maybe it’s the pastor that God is shaping in me, but I feel so sad for those who wanted this to be true and believed it thus. I’m ashamed to think back that from the time I heard about the predictions, I never once considered that I wanted it to be true. I simply joined in the ruckus that mocked the audacity of Harold Camping’s claim. There are people out there who are severely disappointed today, people who are regretting their way of life for the last year. They are embarrassed, isolated, perhaps disillusioned, and confused. Who will help them understand the truth? To still believe in Jesus and follow him?
2. I am humbled by the passion of those who pursued this to its end. As fanatical as these doomsdayers seem to be, I am reminded that C.S. Lewis defined a ‘fanatic’ as someone who is just a little more committed and devoted than you are. I want to be that fanatical and devoted. I want to be that invested into something such that my whole life is banking on it, but I want that ‘something’ to be TRUE. I want passion + knowledge b/c as Pascal said, “Passion without knowledge is dangerous.” I realize that I’m far too moderate and reserved in my undertakings, far too ‘realistic’. The other day I was talking to a student who had stopped dreaming about her future because she needed to be ‘real’. God is not calling us to be ‘realists’ as much as he is calling us to be ‘idealists’ who believe in a kingdom that has come and is coming, a God who can do impossible things such as calling the dead to life and forgiving sins without compromising justice. The doomsdayers have taught me that the world takes notice of passionate fanatics who are willing to leave it all to respond to the call to ‘follow me’.
But many who read this will say, “Come on, Mitchel, don’t go off the deep end. Don’t be one of those. Do you know what you’re risking?” And it’s my succumbing to those opinions that will relegate my life to mediocrity for the kingdom. Everything in its right amount of moderation – not too committed, not too lackadaisical. Such is the formula for lukewarm and ineffective discipleship in Lewis’ Screwtape Letters.
As a final picture of a passion worth being fanatical about, yesterday my church celebrated seven baptisms. I got to baptize four people whose testimonies spanned the gamut. One simply grew up in a Christian home and this was the next logical step in her faith journey, yet another was a rebellious teen who had come home at last. Still another grew up in a Muslim context, in a refugee camp on the other side of the world and five years ago came to our church through World Relief. There were four other testimonies as miraculous and awe-inspiring as those. I’m deeply impressed with the vision of something that no person can explain away. While some may be looking up into the clouds, selling their possessions, and making preparations for the ‘leap home’, the reality is that God’s will is being done on earth as it is in heaven. As I think about the testimonies I heard yesterday, and the songs we sung, and the Word we read, something yearns within me to see more of that. At the end of the day, it’s not just about programs and bigger movements. The thing I want to be fanatical about is the moving of the Spirit of God amongst people such that our lives are lived in greater holiness, servanthood, and devotion.
God, stir in me a passion that my heart cannot contain! A passion that the world cannot explain! Open my eyes to see the things that really matter, and unite my heart to fear you, to be about the things that remind the world that heaven and earth have begun to overlap in the resurrection of the Son of God. Let me be fanatical about souls! And even so, come quickly!!!