Day 8, I suppose, of Walking and Blogging. I got my 10,000 steps in today, and here go some words. Not 10,000 of them, though.
So, yesterday I neither got all my steps nor blogged. Last evening, when I got home from a pastoral emergency call, I gave myself the day off from both. I needed the break, and I don’t regret it.
Today, I got back into it. It was such a nice day, but I wasn’t able to get outside and do any walking, because I was home with a sick kid. I got it through a combination of walking around the basement reading, and walking around Pen Argyl while my other kid was at gymnastics at the YMCA there. Interestingly, I can see a real connection, a contrast, between those two activities.
Because the book I was reading was The Rapture Exposed by Barbara Rossing, a book that looks at how the idea of the “rapture” is completely unbiblical, was invented in Scotland in the 1830s, and is incredibly damaging not only to Christian faith but to the world in general. I’m reading it because I’m going to be leading a Bible study on the book of Revelation, and I want to make sure I’m focusing on the actual hope that’s in Revelation, the praise and joy that’s there, not some horrible vision of God destroying the world and saving just a few. Rapture theology tells us that God hates the world. Yes, God loves humans, or at least certain humans, but God is quite happy to let the world literally burn in order to whisk those humans away into some reward. What a load of crap. The promise of the Bible, including the Book of Revelation, is not that God is going to take people away from this terrible world. The promise of the Bible is that God came to this world, in the form of Jesus Christ, and is still here in the form of the Holy Spirit. Jesus came to redeem the whole world, not destroy it. Reading this book was getting me more and more upset, as I remembered just how many Christians believe this idea, just how many think the Left Behind series of books actually shows what God is like.
So then I took my daughter to gymnastics, and decided I’d get a nice walk around town in during her 45-minute class. It was drizzling, but that wouldn’t be a problem. Well, it only drizzled for the first 10 minutes or so. Then it started to rain. And then rain harder. And then pour. By the time I made it back to the Y, I just sat in my car in the parking lot with the air conditioner running, trying to get at least a little dry. But you know, it was okay. It was okay, because rain so often reminds me of my baptism. And my baptism is what my faith is all about. I truly believe that God relates to us in the twenty-first century through things like Baptism. And one of the things I love about Baptism is that it’s once-and-done, but it has repercussions and reminders and intimations throughout our lives. Baptism is the cup that overflows every day. Because it’s in Baptism that we are told our true identity: God’s beloved child. And nothing, nothing ever, ever, ever can take that away from us. As I get older, I’m starting to appreciate something Martin Luther used to do. It’s said that when he felt overwhelmed by slings and arrows, both internal and external, he would cry out, “I am baptized!” and know that he was loved, and that God would see him through. I am starting to understand what he meant by that, and I am grateful for opportunities like this evening, to walk in unexpected rain and feel a reminder of God’s presence.
Both Baptism and the Rapture are about being chosen by God. But if I had the choice between being chosen as one of the select few to fly away while the world burns, and being chosen as a beloved child for life, a beloved child given a mission to be Christ’s hands in the world, I’d choose Baptism every day. I’m so grateful that my parents chose that for me when I was an infant. I’m so grateful God chose me through that water.
One thought on “Baptism vs. Rapture”
I am so glad you write. It’s 5:00 am and I’ve woken feeling so confused with my feelings on my father’s death. After crying awhile I decided to just break open my kindle and there is your blog about being God’s children and his love for us. It doesn’t explain away my feelings but I know I can say I am baptized and I think I feel His arms around my shoulders and although while I cry … I’m not alone, I feel calmer, it’s going to be ok. Yes I’m confused and I can barely see through the tears to type, but He says it’s going to be ok. I am baptized, I am.His. I am loved. It’s going to be ok.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts and your love Pastor. God used you to comfort me even though you don’t even know it. See you in a few hours.