I'm sure you get the e-mails. The president is going to cancel the elections; we are going to get picked up by little red trucks, and flown off to concentration camps in black helicopters. And on and on it goes. I recently had a sincere church member of mine share an article with me that was quite sensational. The funny thing is, it was true.
But whether these things are true or not is not the point. Too many people spend too much time trying to rally the troops into heralding these conspiracy theories, and instead of preaching "Christ and Him crucified" we are scouring the Internet, newspapers, and televisions for the latest sign of the apocalypse. Don't get me wrong; we should be firmly grounded in our traditional understanding of prophecy. But I think God was smart enough to clue us in on the basic outline of end-time events, without setting us up to get so get caught up in the little details that are of far less importance.
I read with interest an article written by my Philadelphia Eagles-loving friend, Dr. Jon Paulien. He was writing for the Week of Prayer issue of the Adventist Review, and the title of the article was "When the Signs Grow Old." I thought it was very relevant and, in particular, a quote he shared from Ellen White was extremely apropos:
The shortness of time is urged as an incentive for us to seek righteousness and to make Christ our friend. This is not the great motive. It savors of selfishness. Is it necessary that the terrors of the day of God be held before us to compel us through fear to right action? This ought not to be. Jesus is attractive. . . . He proposes to be our friend, to walk with us through all the rough pathways of life. . . . Jesus, the Majesty of Heaven, proposes to elevate to companionship with himself those who come to him with their burdens, their weaknesses, and their cares (The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Aug. 2, 1881).What a telling statement! In talking with a few individuals who have a burden for trumpeting these conspiracy theories, it seems as though one of their primary reasons for doing such is to try to motivate people to "care." In other words, they want to wake people up to the idea that Jesus is coming soon and that they better start "caring" and getting their life in order.
No, Ellen White says. That is not a good motivation! In fact, it is very harmful. Only the "attractiveness" of Jesus can give a person a genuine motivation.