“Popcorn Jesus” or What is going on?

I read a church sign today.  Yes, go figure, there are church signs to be read!

But this sign said something like these words: “Caution: Conditions are favorable for the Rapture to occur.”

After reading that church sign, I thought about something.  Around the times of funerals we here that Jesus has come to take our loved one or friend to heaven.  Now this has left me a bit confused.  For either Jesus is coming to earth every day, dare I say every hour, to escort someone to the pearly gates of heaven, or he is going to be meeting us in the sky, as the rapture theology strongly suggests.

Does Jesus do both tasks?  Is Jesus taking our spirits to heaven when we die, or is he waiting to come for the saints at the time of the Rapture?  For if he is doing both tasks, then he is a “popcorn Jesus.”  That is, Jesus is popping up and down from earth to heaven, and then like a popcorn flying out of an air popper popcorn device, Jesus’ big finale will be the Rapture.

Yet, that is not what I read in the Bible.  Nor do I believe Jesus is a “popcorn Jesus.”

We don’t really know where we go when we die.  The writer of Hebrews mentions the “great cloud of witnesses.”  This cloud is filled with the people who have kept faith with God through Jesus Christ.  At the right time of Jesus’ coming to this earth and the kingdom of God being firmly established on the new earth, Jesus will have that “great cloud of witnesses” in his presence for the rest of time.  I will concede that the Bible talks about immediately being in God’s presence upon our death and waiting for the resurrection of the dead.  Do read N.T. Wright’s book Surprised by Hope to see this explained better than I can in this short blog.

We live in a messed up world.  We hear many different theologies.  But I don’t think a theology of a “popcorn Jesus” is correct. Nor do I think the Rapture theology is correct.  For if both theologies are correct, then I am going to stay confused.  If both theologies are incorrect, then my confusion will clear up.  Jesus will be returning.  He will be doing the separating of those who will be in the Kingdom of God and those who won’t be in the Kingdom of God.

This fact I do know.  For us to be ready for Jesus’ return we are to repent of our ways.  Turn to God.  Run from sin.  And run from bad theology.

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