As you probably have guessed, the Rapture didn’t take place today as scheduled. However, the predicted “end of the world” did underline for me a disagreement I have with certain evangelical and other Christians: an undue focus on death and the afterlife.
The primary tenet of Christianity, John 3:16, does say that those who believe in Jesus “…shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” The problem is when people focus on that and ignore everything else that Jesus said, especially about helping the poor, taking care of the sick, and showing compassion for the downtrodden. Unfortunately, the main thing that matters to those Christians is to go to heaven and avoid hell.
Yes, people are entitled to believe whatever they choose. The problem is how their obsession with the afterlife impinges on everyone else. They feel obligated to impose on other people, as if the actions of others affect their ability to get into heaven. On two separate occasions this week, my family and I were approached by Christians who handed us literature to urge us to “turn to Jesus”. One of them declared how much he “loves Jews” and wore tzitzit under his shirt, even though it was clear that he really loves Jews who “accept their messiah” and become Christians.
Matthew 24:36 makes clear that no one on earth knows when the end is, whether it is of our lives or the world as a whole. We can’t spend our lives worrying about tomorrow. All we can do is be the best people we can be right now and contribute what we can to make a better world. A good place to start is with what Jesus said in Matthew 7:12. They can show respect to others by not imposing their beliefs on them.