The following essay is by a pastor friend of mine. I thought it timely.
“The apostolic church thought more about the Second Coming of Jesus Christ than about death and heaven. The early Christians were looking, not for a cleft in the ground called a grave but for a cleavage in the sky called Glory.” Alexander MacLaren
We’re nearly at the end of our series, Coming Soon. I hope it’s been as meaningful and as much of a blessing to you, as it’s been to me. To be honest, for years I avoided a series on prophecy. It’s very overwhelming and even after several weeks in our study, I still have about as many questions as I do answers. I also have to thank one of our leaders and my dear friend, Ray Ziebell, for encouraging me to do this series. Ray has been after me for years to do a study for our church on prophecy. As God has done so many times over the years, He used Ray to get me to dig a little deeper and grow.
Did you know that the Second Coming and what is known as Eschatology permeates every part of our Christian life and walk with the Lord? Maybe you never realized this but the Second Coming of Christ occupies such an important place in Christianity that it colors almost every element of the faith. Whether we consider doctrine or practice, celebrations or behavior, most everything in our faith anticipates Christ’s return. God tells us a great deal about the Second Coming in order to motivate us, encourage us, and give us hope. Reflect on how the Bible weaves the return of Jesus into the fabric of our faith.
* The Lord’s Supper. Every time believers take Communion, they do so not only in memory of the crucifixion of Christ, but in anticipation of Jesus’ second coming. Paul told us, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” (1 Cor. 11:26). Jesus Himself took the cup at the first Lord’s Supper and said, “For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom” (Matt. 26:28-29).
* Worship. Whenever Christians gather for worship, by this very act they look forward to Christ’s return. “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken,” said the writer to the Hebrews, “and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe” (12:28).
* Prayer. Our prayers gain focus and power when we remember that Jesus is coming again soon. “The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers” (1 Pet. 4:7).
* Ministry. God encourages ministers of the gospel to keep in mind the Second Coming so that their service will remain both effective and relevant: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” (2 Tim. 4:1-2).
* Funerals. When we stand before a casket containing the remains of a Christian, the Lord wants us to remember Jesus is coming back: “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep” (1 Thes. 4:13-14).
* Patience. It’s easy to grow impatient or irritable with others; or even our circumstances when we forget Jesus could return at any moment. That’s why God instructs us: “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand” (James 5:7-8).
* Friendship. Even the quality of our friendships improves when we take seriously the truth that Jesus could return to earth at any time: “For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy” (1 Thess. 2:19-20).
* Spiritual Vigilance. Since the Lord could return at any hour of the day or night, we’re to be vigilant: “Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning—lest He come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake” (Mark 13:35-37).
* Sex and Marriage. The return of Jesus affects even such “earthy” relationships and activities as marriage and sex: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Heb. 13:4).
* Finances. If Christ’s imminent return is to influence the way we conduct our marriages and sex lives, it shouldn’t surprise us that it’s also to shape the way we relate to money. Peter said that God does not want us to be “greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Pet. 5:2-4 NIV).
God never intended that the return of Christ should become merely some quirky doctrine on the fringes of Christian theology. From the very beginning, God expected that the truth of His Son’s return would shape and color every aspect of our lives as Christians. The Second Coming is that important!
So are you ready? It could be today!!