If Harold Camping is right, this will be my last submission to Buffalo Rising.
Now, I have no problem with going on record in saying ahead of time that Camping is not only wrong in his date (I know–risky, right?) but in his whole understanding of eschatology (the study of “Last Things“).
That, however, is not my primary concern. What’s interesting to me is that rarely is there such a clear test of whether people believe what they say they believe.
At least a few people are taking him seriously, selling all of their possessions, budgeting so that at 6pm on Saturday, everything is spent, and making no provision for tomorrow. On the other hand, Camping’s only radio station is continuing to program shows, book appointments, and file tax
documents beyond the day they anticipate God taking them up into heaven.
While I disagree the followers of Camping that sold everything, and feel sorry for the way that they have been deceived, I do admire them for following through on their beliefs.
This hits me personally this week, because I am preparing to preach on Acts 2:44-47 at Lafayette Church. It makes sense, according to the stated beliefs of many Christians (myself included) to liquidate assets and give them to the poor–not because we’re about to get sucked up into heaven, but because we believe that all possessions are rightly God’s, and that God especially loves poor people.
And yet here I am, in one of the poorest cities in the US, and I have more assets this year than last year. If Acts 2 describes what Christians do, can I rightly call myself a Christian?
Locally, we can see this struggle between our stated beliefs and our actions in the reaction to last week’s school boycott. Critics of last weeks boycott said that we shouldn’t boycott a school because it sends the message that education is unimportant. Many of those same critics, however, have fled the Buffalo City Schools by moving to the suburbs or enrolling in other schools. What message does that send? If a city school is not worthwhile for your child, why should it be worthwhile for another?
On the other hand, if you really do believe that the schools are not providing an education, and that the children are better served by staying home, then why send the kids back to school on Tuesday? Would it not be better to organize a home-schooling effort?
This week, I’ve been reminded that its worthwhile to examine my beliefs by considering the logical outcome of said beliefs, and whether or not I can behave in a consistent manner. It’s easy to say we believe in city schools, parental involvement, justice for poor people, or that Buffalo is rising. Our plans demonstrate what we really think.