OOTS News was at a recent parade at which we saw a man holding a sign announcing that the end of the world was coming, and soon: on May 21, 2011. (May 21, 2011 happens to be the wedding day of one of OOTS’s close friends, and is also the day of OOTS’s fiance’s 20-year high school reunion, but we digress.)
Not that the May 21 date is set in stone (we don’t think) – December 12, 2012 is another proposed Judgment Day in some circles.
We got wondering, of course, about how people who believe that the world is ending on a particular date handle their finances. Do they save for retirement? Do they pay their taxes?
Pastor David Wright of Doers of the Word Church in Maryland – and also of Christian TV network www.doerstv.com – recently explained to OOTS News that devout Christians by and large do “not omit financial common sense” just because they believe the world is ending. Though if they believe they know the exact date when the world is ending, he says, maybe you’d expect them to be a bit more profligate than usual.
OOTS NEWS: Are you part of an end of times group or are you just very familiar with people who are part of end of times groups?
DW: I do consider myself a part of that group. Any Christian, true believer in Christ believes that God as Jesus was coming back. I guess that would qualify me.
OOTS NEWS: You’re saying everybody who’s a Christian is part of an “end of times” group in a way?
DW: Absolutely. Absolutely.
OOTS NEWS: For your branch of Christianity, do you believe that the end of times has a specific date that’s coming up or do you think that there will be signs and once you see the signs, then you’ll know more precisely when it’s going to happen?
DW: Well that’s a great question. The word of God teaches us in Matthew, the 24th chapter, about the signs in the times of the ending. But it also lets us know that a thousand days, just one day to the Lord and one day is of a thousand days, which is no man really knows the return of Jesus, but all of the signs and all of the prophecies pretty much have been fulfilled but still no one exactly knows the exact date and time Jesus is coming back.
The only thing we do know is He said, you know, He’s coming back in an hour where no man knows. So if you ask me when he’s coming back is when you don’t know he’s coming back.
OOTS NEWS: So the groups that believe that it’s coming next year, you sort of reject the idea that you could know for sure?
DW: Absolutely. Absolutely. I totally reject that. I separate myself from those who give an exact date and time of his coming. So many people have said that and they’ve been wrong, every last one, so.
OOTS NEWS: Okay. Do you know people who do believe that? That they know?
DW: Oh yeah, absolutely. For a lot of people there was, you know, y2k, that was going to be it, the year 2000, we’re out of here. But obviously we’re still here, so.
OOTS NEWS: Knock on wood, right?
DW: It’s hard to justify the date and exact time when scripture doesn’t really give us that. I don’t know how they come up with that. Maybe I’m missing it.
OOTS NEWS: Well it seems to come from an Aztec calendar. Is that…?
DW: You know, know some people will use that but the scripture says that no man knows the hour of the second coming.
OOTS NEWS: Right. Well so the people who do think they know. So if they believe that December 12, 2012 everything is the end, then do they keep retirement accounts?
DW: That’s a very good question. If you really believe a date and a time that the second event is coming, it has to affect your decision making financially in a lot of different areas. There are some believe it’s the end of times, so they set their finances up in such a way that there’s nothing else to really save for. They spend it all based on that date or planned it according to that date. But at any point in time, if you really believe this world is coming to pass, you’re not going to set up everything based on you, you know, staying here forever and the world will never end. Your mentality is just totally different when you think like that.
So it’s kind of hard. I mean every Christian believes in the second coming of Jesus. And then you got those who believe in a date and time, and if you truly believe that your actions are going to show it.
OOTS NEWS: So do you think that you could look at somebody’s bank account and guess if they believe that that they know the date and time of the second coming? Do you think you could look at their spending patterns and see…”oh that person thinks it’s all going to be over at the end of next year.”
DW: You know you could but it’s kind of hard because it could be somebody just struggling with financial debt, it could be bad stewardship. But those people that do believe the date and time of the second coming, they’re not ashamed of it. They’re actually going around telling everybody that “hey, you got to get ready, he’s coming on this date, he’s coming on this time.”
You could put your money where your mouth is. If you really believe that, let’s look at your finances and see because you wouldn’t be setting up a retirement account. You wouldn’t be opening up savings and 5-year CD deposits and 10-year returns on your investment, if you really believe that Jesus is coming back next year.
OOTS NEWS: You might not even bother paying your taxes next year, right?
DW: Exactly. I wouldn’t.
OOTS NEWS: I wouldn’t either. The IRS is going to hunt you down after…
DW: Exactly. You’re exactly right. I would not pay my taxes if I was [to] meet Jesus by the end of next week.
OOTS NEWS: Is that what you actually find with people who do believe that there’s a specific date and time?
DW: To be honest with you what I find is a contradiction of their words when you compare it to their actions. If you believe that Jesus is coming back in 2012, you wouldn’t be setting up your CD deposits. You wouldn’t be setting up your returns on your investments, that you have to wait 3-4 years. You wouldn’t be storing up riches for yourself if you believe that Jesus is coming back.
OOTS NEWS: Right. But you believe that they still are. That they’re acting as if life will be going on.
DW: From my personal experience, yes. I find a lot of people who do believe that. They’re talking more than they’re walking. I’m not saying that there aren’t those who believe that they aren’t practicing it. But from my experience, I see a lot of people saying it but I don’t see them practicing it.
OOTS NEWS: That’s pretty fascinating.
DW: Because if you thought you were going to die tomorrow, you would do a lot of things different today.
OOTS NEWS: You sure would, right?
DW: Exactly. Exactly. I don’t know if people like to believe that so they want to get attention, I don’t know.
OOTS NEWS: Do you it’s possible that like if somebody’s married that they believe the world is coming to an end at a specific date, but their spouse doesn’t and so the spouse says to them, “Look, you go believe what you want but, like, you better contribute to our IRA.”
DW: It could be a major conflict. That’s very hard to deal with especially if you’re trying to budget your family budget. You’re trying to set the course for college, tuition for your children and investments that you’re going to be making whether they’re an IRA account or separate [retirement] accounts. It’s hard to come to accord as a couple when you believing different opinions on the ending times.
OOTS NEWS: Do you have people who come to you for counseling on this issue?
DW: No, I don’t. I have not had that pleasure yet. I’ve had conversations with people but I’ve never with a family but you know what I found out? I lot of people who are single believe this.
OOTS NEWS: Oh really?
DW: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I found out that, you know, I haven’t had too many people in couples and families that believe this.
OOTS NEWS: That’s so interesting. So single people, I wonder if there is something that believing that that causes you to be single or I wonder if there’s something about being single that causes you to believe it.
DW: Well, you know, I guess some Christians, you know, the hope of finding the perfect mate, you may lose hope in that. Maybe you want the second coming to come right away here.
OOTS NEWS: Right. Yeah, maybe you’re depressed.
DW: What I’ve also found out that’s very interesting – because I believe Jesus is coming back, for example, in this date and time, therefore I exclude myself from having good financial stewardship. I exclude myself from managing my portfolio, I exclude myself from doing those things that the word of God teaches us to do. I won’t have to be a good steward over my finances.
OOTS NEWS: So you think of it as like winning the lottery? Like the end of times is coming and that’s the same as winning the lottery?
DW: And I’m not saying all of them, I want to make it clear. I’m not saying everyone who believes that date and time acts like that. They use it as an excuse to, you know, to not live up to their responsibilities financially.
OOTS NEWS: That’s fascinating.
DW: I want to make it clear, I definitely believe in the end of times but I don’t see anywhere in scripture and God has never given me the date and the time of what’s coming.
OOTS NEWS: So you don’t have any idea when the end is near? Do you feel like it was sooner before the signs came or…?
DW: It’s obviously sooner. But again, the date and time, no one knows. I mean God has proven that no one knows because every single person that has predicted the end times has been wrong. Just flat out, missed the mark on it.
OOTS NEWS: So you still saving for retirement?
DW: Yeah, you know, I don’t have the best financial portfolio, but I definitely want to save for retirement, I also want to put, you know, money aside for my children’s education, but at the same time, I’m giving to the work of the Lord.
And that’s not just about the end of times, it’s about just having a heart. Again because when you really believe in the end of times, it’s not about getting yourself together, it’s about helping out your fellow man, your fellow brothers and sisters and your neighbors and looking out for people.
Because whether you think we’re right or whether you think we’re wrong, if you really believe in something, if you really believe that Jesus is coming back, if you really believe those who are left here will suffer eternal damnation, you’re going to do everything you can to make sure those people know who you are. Even if you are wrong in your belief, your actions are going to justify and confirm what you believe.