“What if Jesus Came Today?” Part One

The Apostle Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians is likely one of the earliest Christian documents.  Even then, 1 Thessalonians makes it clear that Paul considers the suddenness of Christ’s return to be apparent to all believers. “…for you know very well,” he writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:2, “that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”

Paul continues, in verse 4, to describe a major aspect of what it means to be a follower of Christ: “But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief.”  (ESV)

To the secular world, this is probably at the core of what makes Christians seem absurd.  After all, it has been more than 2,000 years. What are you expecting at this point? Where is your God?  Paul consigns these people to the night—to a time for sleeping and drunkenness (5:7), a time when thieves break in and steal.  To the followers of Christ, Paul writes, “…since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet” (5:8).  And let us do these things now, not concerning ourselves with “times and seasons,” as he says in 5:1.  God is outside of time. What is 2,000 years?  What is 2 seconds? What if he comes right now?  Paul is saying, “This kind of anticipation and waiting does not assume our immobility.”  I’m immobile if I’m waiting for the bus because I have (roughly) the exact time of its arrival in front of me.  If I leave to get a coffee, I risk missing it. But Christ “died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him” (5:10). Jesus Christ, being beyond human scheduling, and relieving us of the paralysis of “times and seasons” by his promise, expects us to continue in our active lives of faith.  Waiting while on the move, so to speak. Putting on faith in eager expectation. If God wants our lives to be more than a wait at the bus station, how can His second coming be anything but sudden?  Sudden, but not unlooked for by those to whom He has revealed Himself. 

What if He comes right now?

That’s a startling question; However, even more so: ‘Assuming Christ doesn’t come right this minute, but does come later today, what will you be doing at that moment?’  I’ve been thinking about that lately.  I think the purpose of the question above has more to do with a mindset.  What if we lived our day-to-day lives under the constant assumption that Christ could come at this exact moment?  How might we live differently if we believed now (and now, and also now) that He might arrive?  This would mean that Jesus remains on our minds just about all the time.  Paul, after all, is looking for us to draw this conclusion. A few verses later, in his final instructions, he exhorts us to “pray continually” (5:17). 

The last of the New Testament books to have been written is Revelation; its final words (except for the benediction) are “Yes, I am coming soon.”
Written By: Pastor Ron Huffstetler
Part Two coming soon!

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