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May 23, 2011

The surreal atmosphere of people being wrapped up in a misguided pronouncement about the impending rapture of Christians and the end of the world was shattered by the deadly tragedy in the community of Joplin, Missouri. While academics calculated meaningless imaginary numbers allegedly pulled from between the lines of the Bible, the true meaning of life was brought into dramatic focus in this Midwestern city. 

The irony to me is that the ‘prophetic’ utterance was intended to make people sit up and take note of the certainty and severity of judgment day. I would venture to observe that for most people, it had the opposite effect. It drove people into a deeper cynicism about media personalities and ‘organized religion’. It rendered any future warning just a little more irrelevant and the intended audience just a little more remote. Far from stirring people into action, it drove people to a new level of indifference. 

In contrast, the precious gift of life was brought front and center as a vicious tornado tore through the heart of Joplin and as of today 116 people had lost their lives. For those 116 people, life on this earth did end this weekend. Was there any word of encouragement or hope for them in the dooms day pronouncement? I fail to see it. How did the May 21 declaration of doom help anyone in Joplin on May 22? 

The tornado brought us back to what life and faith are really about. Every day is a precious gift not to be frittered away on idle speculation, but invested in deeper relationships. If the gloom and doom made you apathetic, let the mishap in Missouri compel you to action. Say a prayer; give a gift; help a neighbor; tell someone you love them. Christians need to demonstrate that our call is not to speak down to people but to walk with them, no matter what the future holds or how long it lasts.

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