A Rabid Fundamentalist Column



John W. Cowart

              Welcome! Welcome, welcome.

              You are hereby invited to the most splendid, lavish, super-duper, joyous PARTY in the history of the universe!

              Really truly, I am not exaggerating.

              Many people say this event is the absolute end!

              Six months before he died, publisher Malcolm Forbes gave a birthday party for himself. He invited 700 celebrities to his palace in Tangier, Morocco, to celebrate and he spent $2,000,000 on baubles for his guests.

              The Forbes party was OK (some guests complained about their accommodations) but it was a paltry affair compared to the one you are invited to attend.

              Where you have been invited there are guaranteed to be no complaints whatsoever. There will also be no hunger, no thirst, no tears, no death.

              Celebrities will be there in abundance. You will associate with some kings and queens, popes and presidents, Olympic athletes, movie stars, businessmen, saints...

Everyone is invited to celebrate; there will be former pimps and prostitutes, winos and drug addicts, thieves... And, oh yes, some churchgoers will also swell the ranks, but you plan to come anyhow.

Rejoicing multitudes will flock in from east and west and north and south, from every tribe and tongue and kindred and nation; a more cosmopolitan crowd has never before assembled.

The apostle John got a sneak preview of the festivities and reported on the crowds: "And the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands," he said in Revelation 5.

              Unfortunately, some people will not make the party. They were invited, but chose to make another commitment.

              Saint Paul said that transportation, better than limousine service, will be provided for everyone on the guest list; in fact, our host personally is coming to pick us up:

              "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout... and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with then in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the lord," Paul said.

              Yes, early arrivals at the party -- those people you love who have already died -- will come with Christ to welcome you.

              Picture it. The sky peels away to reveal Glory. Graves pop open and restored people leap up for joy to meet Christ. The sea gives up its dead (My kids always ask: what if you drown and get eaten by sharks? If that happens to me, I'll leap furthest fastest! Besides, who created Jaws in the first place?)

              And the living will hop right out of their bodies and rush to hug Jesus. The whole creation -- a happy dog welcoming its master home -- will quiver with pleasure at his coming again.

Imagine this world as a Christmas present wrapped in blue oceans, green forests and purple mountains. It's splendid. We love it.

But what we see are merely the wrappings and when Christmas morning comes, the wrappings get ripped apart. The real gift inside comes to light and the pretty paper, wonderful as it was, is of no concern to anybody but the trashmen.

              As a fundamentalist Christian, I believe the Bible teaches a brief summary of what we can expect as the party starts:

               Jesus promised to return.

              "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you," he said in John 14. "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again."

              He is returning for our benefit.

              "I will come again and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also," he said.

               No one knows when he will return.

              "Of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only," he said in Matthew 24.

              We are to be ready.

              "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the son of man cometh," Jesus said.

               His return will be the best thing ever to happen to us:

              "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him," (I Corinthians 2:9).

              There’s a place saved for you at the table.

              You are welcomed.

              You are treasured.

              You are invited.

              You are loved.

              Yes, the world will end. Did you think it wouldn't? But never mind that; good things are in store for us. Wonderful things. Remember that what a caterpillar might call the end of the world, God calls a butterfly.

              Oh yes, one other thing about God's party -- RSVP.

              Whosoever will may come, but we really should respond to his invitation right now.

              That's fundamental.



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