Several of the religions I’ve test-driven put a big emphasis on the idea that Jesus is coming again. They get this idea from the Bible, which says somewhere that we should be prepared for Him. This is probably in the New Testament, which would account for the fact that the Second Coming doesn’t play a big part in the Jewish religion. At least during my five-month stint as a born-again Jew, the subject never came up. The belief seems to be that the Messiah hasn’t even shown up the first time, so why worry about something like the second? There’s some good thinking behind that view.
Anyway, there are these religions based on the belief in a Second Coming. The believers are very Christian, of course, and they spend their lives being good so when Jesus arrives they won’t be caught with their pants down, so to speak.
Maybe you’ve seen these bumper stickers that say things like “In case of rapture, this car will have no driver.” I used to own one of those cars. But I got a lot of satirical comments from agnostics, so I traded that car in for a car that expressed other opinions, like “Save the whales” and “Have you hugged your kid today?” I felt a little guilty about this last one, I have to admit, because I was young at the time and didn’t have any children. Complete disclosure: still don’t, never did.
I talked to my preacher about this guilt thing. He said, “Don’t worry, God will provide,” but by the twinkle in his eye I could tell that what he had in mind in the way of my having kids had more to do with him than with God. If he’d have been better-looking and had a more substantial take-home pay and wasn’t already married I might have bit, but I did the moral thing and quit his church. I was still a believer in the Second Coming, so I didn’t convert to another religion. I just transferred to another church down the block with pretty much the same beliefs.
This new church looked reasonably safe. The preacher must have been about eighty. What impressed me about him was the fact that even at that age he was practically certain that he’d still be around when Jesus came back. You have to admire somebody with those convictions, which he expressed every Sunday morning. In fact, my admiration took me to the point where I figured I’d stick with his church for ten years. If he died before the big event, of course, I’d have to convert to another religion, but that was a chance I was willing to take.
Three months after I made this decision, Jesus hadn’t come back. Questions were beginning to form in my mind. I decided to go have a talk with the reverend.
I asked the old guy about that first bumper sticker. “If Jesus came when I was driving down a residential street at maybe 40 miles per and I got raptured, wouldn’t this be dangerous for the kids on the block?”
I guess he’d never thought about this possibility, because he hemmed and hawed and finally came up with the idea that I couldn’t possibly be charged with manslaughter because I’d be on my way to heaven with Jesus and his entourage.
“But what about the kids?”
“If they’re saved,” he said, “they’ll be rising with you.”
“And if they’re not?”
“Then they’ll be getting what they deserve.”
There’s a certain logic to that argument, I had to admit. Then I went on to some other questions that had been bugging me. What do you say to Jesus when you meet him in the air? “I’m Talia la Musa and I’m pleased to meet you”? “Where are we going?” “Do you provide oxygen masks?” “What’s going to happen to my Jewish friends?” “Is it true that we’ll be having caviar for breakfast?”
I also wanted to know, Will Jesus be giving us quizzes to check our knowledge of Bible verses? What if you don’t speak Hebrew or Greek, will he be able to speak English? Would it be worth my while to learn the sacred languages, I mean would I get extra credit? But what good would extra credit do you if you’ve already made the cut?
I was going to ask the minister another question, but I was too embarrassed: What if you have a fear of heights? It didn’t really matter, though. He’d been having a hard time with my questions and by this time he was fast asleep. Not dead, because he was still breathing. About this time I got to thinking, what if he does die? I might be held responsible by the authorities. Besides, his death would only prove that the Second Coming is a long, long way off, so I’d better get out of this religion and go check out some others.
In my opinion, joining a religion based on the idea that Jesus is about to show up again will only make you a nervous wreck.