In my last post, Eschatological Hope, I stated that the eventual return of Christ gives us hope to face whatever we might encounter in this life, and that our focus must simply be to be ready for Christ’s return.
As I noted, eschatology is the study of end time events. Jesus certainly talked about end time events. Once, while leave the Temple area, he said…
Do you see all these buildings? I tell you the truth, they will be completely demolished. Not one stone will be left on top of another! (Matthew 24.2).
His disciples asked when these things would happen, and the rest of the chapter is filled with Jesus’ response. But, the purpose wasn’t to give us a complete schedule of events but to challenge us to stay ready and alert.
Jesus concluded …
So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected. (Matthew 24.42-44).
Be ready. Be alert. At all times.
In the first century church, there seemed to be a sense that Jesus could return anytime. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians …
We don’t need to write to you about the timing and dates, brothers and sisters. You know very well that the day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night. … All of you are children of light and children of the day. We don’t belong to night or darkness. So then, let’s not sleep like the others, but let’s stay awake and stay sober. … Since we belong to the day, let’s stay sober, wearing faithfulness and love as a piece of armor that protects our body and the hope of salvation as a helmet. (1 Thessalonians 5.1-2, 5-8)
Believing that Christ could return anytime should create a sense of urgency. Jesus told his disciples, “While it’s daytime, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work” (John 9.4). In other words, don’t delay. Make the most of the time we have.
While we’re waiting for the return of Christ, we should be driven by a sense of urgency—urgency for mission. In Jesus’ last moments with his disciples, he told them …
It isn’t for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has set by his own authority. Rather, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. (Acts 1.7-8)
Our focus shouldn’t be on figuring how end time events will play out. Christ is coming again, but we don’t know when. In the meantime, our focus must be on being witnesses of Jesus Christ and fulfilling our God-given mission.
Interestingly, the Bible ends with a promise and a prayer. Jesus says, “I’m coming soon,” and John responds, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22.20). That’s the prayer of those who eagerly await his return and are actively engaged in his mission.
Jesus is coming soon. And we have much work to do!