Harold Camping’s Error . . . and Ours
Given that I am starting this post on Saturday evening, May 21, about 10:30pm, it has now been proven that Harold Camping was wrong. The man who claimed to have clear biblical validation for his forecast of Jesus’ return simply missed it. In fact, Camping had also given a similar prognostication in 1988. He was wrong then. He was wrong today.This, however, should not come as a major surprise. Many others have claimed to know the date and time of Christ’s return. They were wrong as well.
In all these cases, these so-called prophets are working against the clear teaching of Scripture. Jesus says no man knows the day or the hour that the Son of Man will return (Matt. 24:36). Both Peter and Paul liken the second coming of Christ to that of a thief coming in the night (2 Peter 3:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:2,4). So, according to the Scripture, there are at least two things about the return of Christ we can know for sure: 1) no man knows when it will happen; and 2) it WILL happen.
It is regarding this second truth that I find my error, and the error of many other believers today. While it is certainly wrong to claim to know the definite date and time of the return of Christ, is it not equally wrong to go along with our lives, living practically as though Christ will not return and as though there will be no judgment? Oh, we would certainly claim to believe that Christ will return . . . someday. But, if we really believed, as the Bible tell us, that Christ will certainly return and that it could occur at any time, there should be at least two significant differences in the way we live our lives today.
First, having believed the Gospel and knowing that Christ will certainly return, I should be living my life more for eternal things than for temporal things. It is so easy to let the awareness of, and desire for, Christ’s return simply get overwhelmed with the cares and desires of daily life. When this happens, my life loses the distinctiveness that should be evident in the life of a Christ-follower who is anticipating his Lord’s return. Rather than having a consuming passion to be found as faithful servants upon His return, I am afraid we allow ourselves to become distracted servants whose lives show little difference when compared to those who do not know Christ at all.
Second, if I really believe that Christ will return to judge the living and the dead, I should be sharing the message of the Gospel of Christ more faithfully with those who do not know Him. Living with the imminent return of Christ in view, the apostle Paul stated, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men . . .” (2 Corinthians 5:11). In other words, Paul’s belief in the imminent return of Christ, the Lord and King, made a difference in both the character and activity of Paul’s life – and it should in ours as well. Empowered by Christ’s Spirit within us, we should be living transformed lives and sharing a life-transforming message with those who don’t know Christ.
I don’t know the day or time of Christ’s return. But, I do know He is returning. The question is, does the way I live for Christ each day, and the urgency/passion with which I share Christ with others, demonstrate that I really believe He is coming again? Harold Camping was wrong when he declared that May 21 would be the day of Christ’s return. We, as believers in Christ, are also wrong, however, when we fail to let others see the evidence of the risen and returning Christ in our lives, and hear the good news of forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation with God through Christ from our mouths. May God strengthen and empower us by His Spirit to live for Christ faithfully and to share Christ freely, because one day . . . Christ is coming again.