II. Jesus Is Not Coming
I’ve always said that if my proverbial ship ever does, in fact, come to harbor, I’ll probably be waiting at the airport instead.
To that effect, if the Messiah from the desert ever does, in fact, return for apocalyptic glory, I will most assuredly not look busy. I base this prediction on two basic precepts: 1) the assumption that of all the days of the week, the Son of God will most likely decide to drop in on a Sunday morning (I mean, it just makes sense, right?), and 2) the probability that, on any given Sunday morning, I will more than likely be hungover, and therefore, the opposite of busy.
“I’m sorry Mr. Jesus, but my splitting headache is telling me that I can’t be bothered with your whole ‘Rapture’ thing today.”
But the fact is, while I’m otherwise occupied nursing the after-effects of my nocturnal deviations, religious people all over the world ARE preparing for the return of Jesus Christ, or the Jewish Messiah, or the Islamic al-Mahdi if you like, or Kalki if you’re Hindu. But wait, that’s not all, folks! The pious certainly don’t have a monopoly on save-our-asses/end-of-the-world scenarios. If secular wackiness is more to your taste, try Planet Nibiru, the Mayan Calendar, or any number of scenarios involving comet-riding extraterrestrials who come to either enlighten or destroy. Yes, apparently the Apocolypse is going to be an awfully busy social engagement if all of the available scenarios vindicate the faithful by coming to fruition.
Luckily for you and I and everyone else, absolutely none of this will ever occur. Ever. I promise. But if you dare exhale a sigh of relief at this realization then you are clearly not seeing the whole picture. The fact remains that a lot of people are absolutely convinced that The End is near and nearly here. Which begs the question, “Is that a problem?”
I was having a conversation with a coworker recently about how we might transition from a petroleum-based economy to a more stable and sustainable model. When it became clear in the midst of our discussion that the problem is terrifyingly complex, my companion threw up his hands in frustration and then said something with such nonchalance that it has haunted me ever since: “Well, Chris if you believe in the Bible, Jesus is coming back any day now to usher in the end of world and create a new Heaven on Earth, so what does it matter WHAT we do? None of this matters anyway!”
I was appalled. And I realized that my coworker’s position that he is literally a powerless participant in the ultimate future of his world was not an isolated case. This is mainstream opinion. For example, “forty-four percent of the American population is convinced that Jesus will return to judge the living and the dead sometime in the next fifty years.” (It’s easy to understand; every generation of Christians, including Jesus’ own original followers, have believed that Christ would return in their lifetime, and they too, have died disappointed.) If a so-called “educated” society full of believers is content to let the human race and the world as we know it slide into oblivion right through our grasp without so much as lifting a finger, all because of the remarkably uneducated promise of a Divine “get-out-of-jail-free-card” from the Almighty, then we truly are all doomed thanks to our own comatose-inducing apathy. Ironically, the tangible substance of the apocalyptic prophesies may indeed come to pass due to society’s inane belief in the prophesies themselves (minus the promised cozy, feel-good ending, that is).
No, I’m sorry to report to the lethargic among us, Jesus is NOT coming to save you. Nor is anyone else. But our time on the planet is in very real danger of coming to an end, and soon. That means that if we want to survive as a species and pass on a world worthy of our legacy to our children and grandchildren, we have to solve the difficult problems- poverty, malnutrition, disease, energy consumption, global war, overpopulation, economics, pollution and government- all on our own. That means we have a lot of work to do, and mark my words, it most certainly does matter. Now, let’s leave the 2,000 year old dogma behind us and figure out how in the hell we’re gonna get all this done.
And if Jesus does, in fact, eventually come back, tell him to lend a hand or get out of the way. We’re kinda…Busy.