Saturday, May 28, 2011

Please, Jesus, may i be left behind with the other christians

Pretty surprising and cool this article excerpted appeared in Christianity Today.  It says what I said several years ago here...and folk far more famous like N.T. Wright have been saying all along ,

Maybe the Camping thing will help bring this to the table...(But you should've seen the rabbi's face when I brought it up on his radio show   (:'s worth it to hear his voice in the podast here. (Click May 28).

Jesus' best-known teaching about end times is recorded in Matthew 24-25, with perhaps the most famous section found in 24:40-41. Here Jesus describes the impact of his Second Coming: "Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left." These two verses, along with the parallel passage in Luke 17, have inspired one of the most famous Christian songs of all times, Larry Norman's 1972 classic "I Wish We'd All Been Ready" (from an album tellingly titled Only Visiting This Planet). More recently, the hugely successful Left Behind book and film series has inspired the imaginations of countless Christians.

These verses are worth close consideration. According to Jesus, at least one key to understanding this teaching is the story of Noah, as Jesus explains in the preceding passage, Matthew 24:37-39:
As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
Notice what Jesus says twice in this passage. The coming of the Son of Man will be "as it was in the days of Noah" (v. 37). In case we missed it, we are told again: "That is how it will be" when the Son of Man comes (v. 39). Anytime Jesus says something twice, it is doubly worth paying attention to. Jesus seems to be emphasizing two aspects of the Noah story. One is simply the surprise factor of the Flood. Nobody was expecting it. Until the day it happened, people were going about their business, living their daily lives. They were taken by surprise. So too will the Second Coming of Jesus come unawares. We should always be ready.

We ought also to notice the presence of two groups of persons. One is Noah and, implicitly, his family. Noah is righteous and follows God. He and his family are saved; they are not caught by surprise. The second group is the unnamed "people" (v. 38): those who were eating, drinking, and marrying. This second group—described in Genesis 6:5 as full of wickedness, their hearts and thoughts continually evil—gets caught by surprise. Its wickedness prompted the judgment of the Flood. But as the story makes clear, the people who "knew nothing about what would happen" got taken away.
We have to pause for a moment and observe how thoroughly this inverts some popular understandings of the end times. Those who do not follow God are, in the language of this passage, "taken away." By contrast, Noah and his family are "left behind." While the flood washes away the wicked, God rescues Noah and his kin, leaving them to enjoy the goodness of the renewed and restored creation.
And then, we are told—not once, but twice—that the Second Coming of Jesus will happen just like this. Consider once more verses 40 and 41. They describe two pairs of persons. In each case, one person is taken away and one is left behind. And verses 37 and 39 tell us that this outcome mirrors the days of Noah. The entire passage strongly suggests that the ones "left behind," in Jesus' description of the Second Coming, will not be the wicked ones but the followers of God. They are rewarded by being left behind to enjoy, as embodied creatures, God's new kingdom. The wicked are "taken away," losing the chance to experience the new creation.

Christ or Plato?

Of course, I may be wrong. Jesus often tells stories whose main ideas are not immediately obvious. Indeed, other passages seem at first glance to shine a different light on the concept of being "left behind." In Luke 17:26-36, for example, we have a different version of this teaching, where Jesus twice speaks of two persons, only one of whom will be taken. Here, Jesus refers not only to the Flood, but also to the story of Lot and the destruction of Sodom. In the Lot story, the righteous are taken away from Sodom, while the ones left behind get destroyed. Does this reverse the lesson we derived from the Noah story? Perhaps it has nothing to do with being taken or left, but simply with the imperative of being ready.
There is, however....continued: Who Gets Left Behind? How end times theories shape the ways we view our earthly abode" byMatthew Dickerson

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