A Whole Bunch of Looking Ahead (and Some Looking Back).
“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.”
2 Peter 2:1 (NIV)
Things were so simple when I was younger.
Believe in Jesus and go to Heaven. That was basically the meat of my entire existence growing up. I read about hardship in the Bible and how God tests us. There were numerous passages about persecution – Jesus’ crucifixion as the prime example – and how we should rejoice the opportunity to stand in defiance of opposition. Every hero of the Bible came with an appropriate enemy he needed to dismantle. For Noah, it was the entire world. Moses had Pharaoh. David fled for years from Saul. I never dealt with any of that. In the story of Jesse, no pagan antagonist could ever be found.
That isn’t to say I was happy-go-lucky my whole life. Kids picked on me in Elementary School, because I was shy and painfully awkward. But that was in Christian school. Then in High School, the people who tortured me the most were teachers who thought I was annoying. But for every foe, I had a friend, and while I am not always the keenest optimist, I got by almost entirely unscathed.
This was surprising, considering how often the Bible mentions false prophets and evildoers who will not only persecute us but also entrap us into bad behavior. Peter considers these false prophets in a particularly distasteful light. In his second letter to the Christian community, he says “in their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories,” and that “blackest darkness is reserved for them.” (2:3,17) That is quite an indictment of these individuals. “Blackest darkness?” That’s the Bible-way saying “There is a special place in Hell for you!” He goes on, calling them “slaves of depravity” with “eyes full of adultery.”
With so much of the Bible dedicated towards these false prophets, I have to wonder. Where are all of them?
Are they Mormon teachers, manipulating God’s word? Or are they prosperity preachers, taking the money of followers for their own gain?
Perhaps… but I think there are just… regular non-Christian people.
Have you ever heard of Burning Man? It is this communal festival of sorts that takes place in the desert of Nevada each summer. People come from all over, building a community that lasts a week on the auspice of “radical self-reliance.” It features a number of camps, art installations, and spiritual experiences. It is also notorious for its wild drug and sex culture; there is even something called the “Orgy Dome.” But all that said, I have never met a person with a negative story to tell about it. They usually describe it all as life-changing, particularly for the vast acceptance of all people and the sense of togetherness.
I’m fairly certain that most Christians think of it as a modern Sodom and Gomorrah.
I have never been, so I won’t draw any conclusions about it, but honestly, that’s not even the point. When the Bible refers to “false prophets,” I think they are warning us against people like those at Burning Man – anyone with a belief outside of Christianity.
And yes, maybe there are a few people on pulpits sharing lie after lie in the name of Christianity, but I don’t think that’s what Peter cares about here.
Guys, I’m struggling to bring this to some conclusion. But unfortunately, today is just one of those days where I write a rambling jumble of thoughts.