A reflection of Easter during the coronavirus pandemic.
This Easter, Christians everywhere will be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. Physically they can’t be together as a community; however, they will be carrying the spirit of the risen savior in their hearts. The most important thing to them, whether they can gather in a worship service to celebrate the Easter event or not, is that Christ died, rose from the dead and offered them eternal salvation. Essentially, this is why they are Christians.
This year, with the coronavirus, things are very different: the daily reports of the ever-increasing numbers of people getting sick—with too many of those dying; and all of a sudden humanity is standing on the brink of its own mortality! At this Easter time it gets us reflecting on “life” and what it’s really all about. If we are Christians during this season of Easter we might be thinking about our unchurched neighbors—those of them who haven’t been saved. Perhaps we’re wondering to ourselves if these people are missing out on the Easter promise of salvation?! The hard-line conservative view is if you’re not baptized or otherwise spiritually prepared to die, you’ll have to pay the consequence for your lack of preparedness. During ordinary times, these kinds of thoughts are more passive and fleeting, perhaps; but with people dropping like flies all around us, our concerns have been put on high alert.
There is another Christian prophecy which expands this topic: the apocalypse. With all of the people across the globe falling victim to this horrific pandemic it is feeling more and more apocalyptic-like “the end of days” is upon us! I’m not saying that is the case, I’m just saying it feels like that, especially having someone like Donald Trump as president! In 2015 when he was campaigning, Trump was pulling in overwhelming numbers of supporters from conservative Christians. Many of these conservatives were of a mindset that it was time to “tune-up” the prophecies found in the scriptures which have to do with the apocalypse. There is a conservative Christian apocalyptic doctrine which spells out in acute detail what is supposed to happen; The Rapture. This is a mythical event derived from a scripture in Matthew and, in my opinion, takes far too many liberties in its process of interpreting the meaning. To my mind, it is an example of “tuning up” the scriptures in the extreme.
Paraphrasing: At some undetermined time in the future—in a period referred to as the end of days—Jesuswill return to the earth in a cloud accompanied by an army of angels. The short version of this is that He will gather up (rapture) all the faithful people from the earth to a safe place. Once these “saved” Christians are safely out of the way, Jesus and His angels will commence wreaking havoc upon the planet earth. The idea is that God needs to purge the earth of all its impurities (scars of sin and sinners) before He can come here Himself to live for 1,000 years.
This brings us to the title of this blog. It is a parable of sorts. It is a simplified explanation of this notion that God, as the creator of the earth and humanity, has come to a decision to destroy His creation. This scenario bespeaks of a young boy who’s spent much time and effort building a very cool and personalized model car. He took days and weeks putting it together, painting it up in a candy apple red (baking the finish in his mom’s oven to make it shine). He put himself into the task; taking extra special care, using tweezers, a magnifying glass and other specialty tools. He paid very close attention to each and every detail, no matter how small. In the end—beaming and proud—he finds a special spot on top of his dresser and places it there. Perhaps he spends an additional $1.75 for a plastic case so dust won’t get on it. Every day, for a couple weeks or so he looks at it and admires his work. One day he comes home with a pocket full of firecrackers. For no apparent reason he decides to tape one of them to his creation, his pride and joy. Next he takes it out behind the garage, sets it on the ground, lights the firecracker and blows it to smithereens! The end.
In a nutshell, this is the nature of the God conservative Christians have come to espouse. He is a deity who is the main character in the Old Testament. This deity is a fickle sociopath. He is unpredictable…one minute handing out blessings and the next taking them back or worse. His love is conditional and his behavior is reactive. His nature runs hot and cold depending on the behavior of His subjects. As conservatives have “tuned-up” the message of Jesus, they have inadvertently brought back into His gospel the Old Testament bent towards intolerance and vindictiveness. Along with this Old Testament tenor comes an acceptance, even an embracing of a theology which aspires to condemning innocent people to hell if they haven’t accepted Him as their personal savior.
When Jesus came to the earth He preached, not this fickle sociopath deity. Jesus preached about His loving Father in heaven. And this loving heavenly Father loves His creation—His children—unconditionally! No strings attached! Let us rest assured that He doesn’t intend any harm to come to any of us. After all this is Easter and there is good news for everyone. God loves us, no matter who we are or what we’ve done. Don’t let anybody tell you any different! Jesus loves all of His children whether they acknowledge Him or not. God’s love, despite what any “tuned-up” spin about it claims, IS unconditional!! There is another “end time” prophecy in Isaiah 2: 1-4 (NIV) which paints a much brighter and all-inclusive picture of God’s plan for humanity. If you choose to—go read it now.