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The Great and Terrible Day of the Lord

May 14, 2012

When I was in college, there was an apocryphal tale going around about a prank pulled some years earlier. Apparently, there was a guy who was getting all worked up about the Left Behind series or similar literature and was obsessing about missing the Rapture. His wing decided to let him know what that would be like.

They got two whole dorm floors to participate: the top floor, where he lived, and the one right beneath. While this guy was sleeping, they emptied everyone off of the two floors, and, when the time was right, sounded the blast of a trumpet.

Shocked and startled, this poor kid woke up only to find nobody there at all. What he did find was carefully placed clothes and eyeglasses, jsut of the sort that you would expect from someone who had just been translated to heaven. He went room to room, and, finding nobody, ran down to the next floor, only to be greeted with more of the same. I’m not sure exactly how things turned out, but I am sure that this guy was panicking. Missing the Rapture is serious business–you face no less than 7 years of trauma, and, pretty much all the Christians are beheaded. Terrible news.

I think that this is one of the greatest pranks ever. So great, in fact, that it probably never happened. But it did get me to thinking….is Christianity really about making it into the Rapture?

I wrote a Bible study for a camp this summer that argues that being awake and alert is about more than being ready for Jesus’ return–that’s actually all that the Thessalonian church was thinking about! I think that being awake and alert is being attuned to what good Christ is calling you towards each and every day, not spiritually sleeping through opportunities to reach out.

I’ll go ahead and include the study below, because, hey, why not. Hope you enjoy:

The Day of the Lord

1 Thessalonians 5:4-6 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day (the day of the Lord) should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.

When I was in school, I always had a recurring dream during finals week: I would sleep through my alarm and I would miss my tests! I would arrive too late to take them, and I would fail my class! While this never happened to me I always worried that it would. It’s sortof like the time that I faked being sick in elementary school and slept through my dad leaving to take my brothers and sisters. Too late, I awoke and remembered that it was the day of our field trip! I couldn’t take back my choices; I missed out.

1 Thessalonians 5:4-6 is talking about a similar situation. Paul is writing about Jesus coming back and encouraging his readers not to be asleep and miss that great and glorious day. We aren’t supposed to be people that live in darkness, doing whatever we want to do and then jumping in to the light whenever it suits us. If we do that, we might miss Jesus coming back. Verse 4 tells us that such a coming is like a thief, and thieves don’t announce their arrival beforehand. Rather, Paul tells us to be children of the day, who live in the light at all times, awake and alert. If we do this, we won’t sleep through any opportunities to do good deeds.

Wouldn’t it be a tragedy if we decided to be lazy, to spiritually sleep, as it were, and we missed an opportunity to reach out to others? Sometimes in life, we only get one chance, and we need to be alert in order to take advantage of those chances as they come. This week, try to look for ways to be alert and to take every opportunity to show God’s light to others.

For further reading:

Matthew 25:1-13

Discussion questions:

Have you ever had a time when you were “spiritually sleeping” and missed an opportunity to show God’s light? How did you feel about that afterwards?

Why do you think that God wants us to be walking in the light at all times rather than just at the end of our lives?

How can you live today to be ready for Jesus to come back at any time?


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