Summary: This was a prophecy conference. At prophecy conferences people talk about what hasn’t happened yet, but what they believe will happen based on what they think the Bible says about what will happen, held up to the light of what’s happening now.
Elaine and I were out all of last week at an “equipping the saints” conference. It wasn’t really named “equipping the saints,” but you know what I mean. It was a conference for Christians by Christians, with subject matter focused on a particular facet of the faith. This one was about “prophecy.” Not “exhort-your-brother” prophecy; “end-of-the-world” prophecy.
As a book publisher, I’m supposed to go to things like this; we were invited, we went and we sold some books. So it worked out.
That was the business side of it. Usually there’s another reason I go … one I don’t know about in advance. I find out after I arrive or after it’s over and say, “oh, that’s why I was supposed to go.” This trip wasn’t any different; there was an object lesson (or two) waiting for me.
Before I go any further, let me just say for the record – I’m not the kind of guy who likes to over-spiritualize things. I’d rather not. The problem is, spiritual stuff keeps happening and the only way I know how to tell you about it is with words that sound kind of … well … spiritual.
I don’t like using “spiritual” vocabulary when regular vocabulary will do. If I’m thinking something or read something in the Bible, I’d rather say, “This is what I think,” or “I read this in the Bible,” than say “God told me.”
But if God tells me or shows me something or I’d rather just be honest about it.
One last thing. When God talks to me I don’t hear an audible voice; so you don’t have to worry about that one. I wonder why people always worry about that one? It’s like if you say God speaks to you and you can’t actually hear His voice, you’re a spiritual guy. But if you do actually hear His voice, you’re a nut.
Some people think it’s a little off to think God speaks to His followers. I think it’s a little off to follow a God who doesn’t speak.
Anyway, back to my trip.
This was a prophecy conference. At prophecy conferences people talk about what hasn’t happened yet, but what they believe will happen based on what they think the Bible says about what will happen, held up to the light of what’s happening now. It’s fairly confusing.
Since it hasn’t actually happened yet, not everybody agrees with everybody else. Even the people who agree with each other don’t always agree; it depends on how detailed you want to get about things that haven’t happened yet.
And there are charts. Lots of charts. My favorite chart was an illustrated timeline of every important event from the creation of the world to 2005. As you can imagine, it was a really long chart. What I liked about it was that everything had already happened. That was a chart I could follow. The chart was for sale. I should have bought it. Elaine told me to, but I didn’t. Maybe I can get it at the next conference.
The lesson I was supposed to learn last week wasn’t about prophecy; it was about people.
When I was six I had a poster of the Peanuts character, Snoopy, on my bedroom wall. He was in his classic pose, lying prone on the roof of his dog house. Inside Snoopy’s thought balloon was, “I love humanity; it’s people I can’t stand.” The saying stuck with me.
Too often, people can be jerks or nuts and their leaders can be self-aggrandizing, self-serving demagogues. It’s just human nature and, like Snoopy, I shouldn’t be too surprised when I see it.
I’m especially sensitive to it in the Christian world because we’re supposed to represent just the opposite. We’re supposed to be light and salt to the world, giving it sight and flavor. Our leaders should be servants; patterned after their leader, God who became man to be our example.
So already you know I have a low tolerance level of human frailty and have my own issues with plank-in-eye disease (see Matthew 7:3).
I show up at a prophecy conference, where everybody’s focused on lining up things that haven’t happened yet and everybody’s got their own opinion of what hasn’t happened yet, so I know I’m not going to agree with at least some of what’s being said.
I really had mixed feelings about being there … before I showed up.
After we got there, everything I was worried about evaporated like mist and things I never thought about, like the fact that I might actually enjoy being around these people, began to materialize.
Sure, there were varying opinions floating around about the nuts and bolts of the apocalypse; but that didn’t define the conference. At least not for me.