This may sound slightly (okay, very), sad, but my family's Christmas Eve celebrations last year consisted of a Left Behind Movie Marathon in Quebec. It was, to be fair, an unusual Christmas Eve in several respects. We were driving to visit my grandmother and Christmas Eve happened to be a stopover day in Quebec City, with nothing much to do since the friend who let us stay at her place had to work that day. Nor was the Left Behind Movie Marathon even the most unusual part of our day. The one time all day that we decided to leave the apartment and go for a walk, my sisters and I stopped off at a random convenience store where we were offered free beer (I was 17 at the time, and my sisters were 16 and 11. Apparently, according to the guy behind the counter, the legal drinking age could only be enforced if they sold us the beer. Quebec is weird that way.) However, while the convenience store episode has faded to nothing more than a funny story, the Left Behind Movie Marathon is becoming one of my greatest regrets.
Here's why: My little sister decided that Left Behind was the greatest thing she had ever seen (sadly, this is probably in large part a consequence of our sheltered Christian upbringing), and thus began an obsession that is still going strong 6 months later. Consequently, eschatology unfortunately became a prime topic of dinner table conversation for my family. The conversation could get pretty heated, since my sister was (at least at first) completely sold on the dispensationalist position presented in Left Behind, while my dad was hardcore post-trib. Then, to add to the mix, I find debates over eschatology incredibly pointless, but am sympathetic to (although not completely sold on) the preterist position.
Moreover, once a week at least, my sister and I will end up having a conversation that goes something like this: "Christina, do you think that Jesus will rapture us before the tribulation? Because I don't think I could handle living through the tribulation." "Rachelle, I've already told you, I don't know. Jesus hasn't told me anything new since last week. But I promise you that whatever happens, He'll give you the strength to deal with it." "Well, I still hope it's pre-trib." It's not a bad conversation to have with your little sister, as far as those go, but it gets a little tiresome after the tenth time.
Lastly, my little sister (egged on by my other sister) has taken to identifying signs of the coming apocalypse whenever she listens to the news. Her latest candidate for the Beast of Revelation? Barack Obama. Why? Because (and I quote) "Frank McKenna called him a messiah on CTV and my friend Brittany says he makes people bow down to him." Okay then.
It wouldn't be quite as sad if my little sister was the only one who was obsessed with Left Behind and the famed End Times, but it seems to be fairly common among North American Christians in general. Maybe this is because we tend to prefer sensationalism to what is solid. I don't know. At anu rate, I find it sad that we can allow a comparatively minor issue to become so divisive. I recently read a book by Abdu Murray called "Apocalypse Later: Why the Gospel of Peace Must Trump the Politics of Prophecy in the Middle East." I definitely recommend it. It dealt with how Christians are so focused on identifying fulfilled prophecies in the Middle East comflict that we forget the most important thing: Jews and Arabs both need Jesus. Maybe we could all use a return to the gospel, instead instead of spending our money buying rapture-ready air fresheners and spending our time watching Rexella gush over Jack van Impe's prediction that Jesus is coming back in 2012. Maybe, if we actually focused on spreading the gospel, more people would be ready if He did come back then.