Growing up, my mother was caught up in dispensationalist theology regarding the rapture and tribulation. She raised me to not expect to ever live beyond my teenage years. I learned firsthand not to raise my future children in this manner.
For many people the idea of rapture and prophecy and the end of the world is completely captivating and all-consuming. Understandably so, as it gives us reason to ignore almost all practical responsibilities and cares in anticipation for something greater. It is a greater escape than any movie or novel or game could hope to be, because it encompasses many of the same elements yet has the promise of being reality. Many wait for the end… the only problem is this is not what Jesus taught his followers to do.
As Christians I think it is important that we do not follow any one person’s theology exclusively. Good meaning people can get caught up in weird ideas, and often people are all-too-eager to follow someone who speaks with confidence. People will eagerly accept a leader’s interpretation of theology and the Bible without even considering the soundness and accuracy for themselves.
In the Bible Jesus tells a parable of a master who gives three of his servants money to use while he is away. When he returns, he asks each to give an account of what they did with the money. Two of the servants put what they were given to use, but one was fearful so he buried his share and simply returned to his master with the original amount. The master harshly condemns the servant (for not even putting the money in the bank where it could incur interest), takes back what he gave (and gives it to one of the other servants), and throws him out.
You could spend your whole life waiting for the end, and ultimately not do anything meaningful with your life. What you were given will be taken from you.
Jesus told his disciples that their love for one another would prove to the world that they were his followers. He told them to love God and their neighbors, to keep His commands, and to teach His message to others. Many will point to the more apocalyptic statements Jesus made which are recorded in the bible, ignoring that many of those statements were warning Israel of the consequences of continued insurrection against Rome (which came to a head in AD 70).
Regardless of if you believe in the idea of Rapture and Tribulation, or if you believe that most of the book of Revelation was written to describe the persecution of the early Church under rulers like Nero (which was the more popular and accepted theological interpretation up until the last few hundred years in the West), that belief is not what makes you a Christian. You could also think of it this way: for every person alive now, judgment day will come sometime in the next 1-120 or so years… which is the average human lifespan. Whether or not the rest of humanity dies with you, you still die.
Jesus told his followers that those who love him keep His commandments, and when I look at the world I can’t help but notice that there are still so many poor, parentless, oppressed, and disadvantaged people whom He told us to look after. Regardless of when or how the end comes, shouldn’t we be busy doing what He asked us to? The end could come tomorrow, or YOUR end could come today.
Maybe this is why Jesus told us that no one knows the day or the hour of his return… so that we would not miss out on the life He gave us today by obsessing about an end that that may or may not come on any particular day?