Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
I recently read an article about “rapture anxiety” – the idea that at any moment, you may not see someone you love, and think you’ve been left behind. Someone stepping outside to check the mail without telling you, for example, becomes a traumatic memory steeped in fear and perceived loss. For a moment, you believe you didn’t make it into heaven, but it’s not true. If this emotional turmoil feels incomprehensible to you because you don’t believe in the rapture, I understand. Neither do I.
There are leaders that misrepresent what is to come as a way to evoke fear or a sense of urgency. Their goal is to influence you to make certain decisions, often benefiting them. You’ll even notice that many cults and cult-like activities have used the “end times” as a way to influence through fear. Those who hear and believe such messages live on a spiritual edge, while predictions and theories are misrepresented as facts. Remember when Covid arrived? There were those who thought – is this it? Is the vaccine the mark of the beast? YouTube theories went wild, as clickbait showed up in every corner. Fear was weaponized, making its way into religion to increase spiritual anxiety in unsuspecting hearts.
Guarding Ourselves Against Deception
One of the challenges, however, is that rapture anxiety, end-time anxiety, and mark of the beast anxiety (to name a few) are all steeped in some semblance of truth. Afterall, the Bible does teach us that this world will come to an end – it must, because God said that it would. A simple glance of the history books would show us our self-destructive nature. Sin is an infectious disease that was never meant to make a home on any planet, but we allowed it to thrive here. Look around and you’ll see that we’ve always struggled. From wars to slavery, humanity has seen its fair share of lows while continuing to fight to achieve some highs along the way.
Unfortunately, it’s in this disorder and confusion, that we open ourselves and our families up to emotional manipulation. We’ve been warned this would happen. When Jesus was on Earth, He spoke to the rising chances of being misled during end times. In Matthew 24:24, He said: For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. So how do we guard ourselves against such deception? How do we not get caught up in our own versions of rapture anxiety.
We Consider the Character of Christ
To guard against deception, one must first get to know Christ for themselves. When you do, you’ll see that He didn’t leverage fear tactics or anxiety-inducing messages to spread the gospel. Jesus spent time teaching people about the love of God, and what that love looks like manifested in our lives. He was honest and bold. He didn’t mince words, but Christ did understand the plight of humanity. I cannot fathom that in His love, He would want us constantly worrying if this is it. Any type of message to the contrary would feel like a red flag to me.
1 John 4:18 reminds us that: There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. The God we serve wants to heal the afflictions in our souls, not add to them. He strengthens us so that we can find peace in the midst of tribulations. He comforts us through our sorrows and places unpredictable joy in our lives so that we can feel cared about and seen.
Such compassion is why Philippians 4:8 encourages us to meditate on things that are true, just, noble, pure, lovely, and praiseworthy. If we think that our minds can rest in lovely places, then we believe in God’s power to give us those lovely places in the midst of darkness. Fear grows when we give it energy, but so does God’s love. So where do you want to spend your time?
The Peace Found in Preparation
In the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, found in Matthew 25, we are given the following advice in verse 13: Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour. If we want to understand what keeping watch means in this statement, then we have to look back at the five wise virgins. They came prepared with extra oil for their lamps. They did not assume how long they would have to wait. As time passed, they fell asleep. Once awoken by the announcement that the bridegroom was coming, they were able to trim their lamps and have light.
Others could not and left to buy oil. As they were buying oil, the bridegroom arrived. They missed their opportunity to enter the wedding banquet and were permanently shut out. This parable teaches us that keeping watch is akin to being prepared for Christ’s return. The five wise women had no anxiety about the delay because they had extra oil to carry them through the waiting period. This world wants us to fear time, but God wants us to use it for preparation.
Don’t let others make you feel anxious about Christ’s return. That’s another red flag. The waiting period is meant to be a place where preparation meets trust. We put in the work, believing that God will add increase to our efforts. As we step out on faith, fear loses its influence over our lives. In the midst of tribulations, we learn to abide in Christ. Continual growth grants us steadiness in the waiting and hope in the preparation.
Be Anxious for Nothing
Nevertheless, if we look back at the rapture anxiety concept, it’s important to note that it does get one thing right. For the joy that comes with meeting Christ, there is also a sadness for those we love, who will not. Spiritual preparation was never meant to just be about self. It’s also about ensuring that our fellow brethren get the chance to experience Christ too. That should be our greatest mission while here on Earth. We weren’t called to worry about the when, but to be concerned with the who – and that who should be open to all of us.
Yet not everyone will accept. Some will remain in a state of unsteadiness and darkness. We cannot let their choices cause us to lose faith in the power of God. We have to trust in God’s plan, no matter how difficult the journey gets. By doing this, we can immerse ourselves in His light. Now, this doesn’t mean we won’t feel sadness, or worry, or concern. It’s okay to have an emotional response to our situations – we just shouldn’t stay there.
Philippians 4:6 reads: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. This is how we guard against deception. If we come earnestly to God in prayer, we’ll find comfort in laying our requests at the foot of the altar. Gratitude allows us to trust in His will over our own, so that we don’t pick up the burdens meant to be left behind. We enter His throne room with boldness, knowing that no matter what anxieties are thrown are way, we can face them. By God’s grace, we will overcome.
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