For our next Basking in the Son podcast, we take a look at tribulation/rapture films.
Because of the popularity of the subject matter in both books and film, the idea of a rapture, of being taken before the tribulation, has become ingrained within our society. During our research I was surprised to find out that the concept of the rapture is a relatively new idea, theologically speaking. It is based on but a few bible passages and was not totally in the mainstream thinking until recently.
As I look at the rapture concept, I am forced to ask a question… when in the bible does God ask us to avoid a necessary sacrifice to live our faith?
From the very beginning, Genesis, God asks obedience from Adam and Eve. When they fail, and commit the first sin, he says he will teach them the value of sacrifice and the rewards that go along with it. He will show us that obedience to God’s will necessitates sacrifice and sometimes hardship. We’ve talked in previous blogs about the sacrifices Jesus requires to be his follower and how difficult it is to achieve them. We’ve talked earlier about God’s call to rise above our human weakness and attempt to achieve holiness.
So, the idea that we will be spared the greatest test of faith by being snatched from the earth in a blink of an eye, seems to me, to contradict the lesson God has been teaching us throughout salvation history.
Everyday we are faced with various hardships that challenge our beliefs, whether it be financial, health related or spiritual challenges. Even if one were to live a life without great turmoil, the mere requirement to dispense with the world’s priorities and embrace God’s is a challenge beyond measure.
Why, when it mattered most, when the challenges were at their greatest, would God not require our faithfulness? If God were to simply snatch believers from the earth to avoid great tribulations, would not the Christians being brutally persecuted under Nero qualify? Or the Jews and Christians under the Nazi’s?
Why are we so special as to not require as much of a sacrifice as Saint Perpetua or Saint Maximilian Kolbe?
Would not our example of holiness during the greatest of tribulations perhaps bring a few more people into union with Jesus Christ?
So, sure, rapture stories are great cinematic story devices and I’ve enjoyed quite a few movies that tell that idea, but the weight of salvation history seems to tip the scales toward our continued sacrifice as opposed to being rewarded with a “Get Out of Tribulation Free” card.