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Oh, No! She's Coming!

September 22, 2014

When I was a kid and growing up in Florida, I remember the shock of being told that my grandmother was coming to visit. The sickening feeling I had in the pit of my stomach was akin to having the flu, taking a test unprepared, or the worst of the worst: turning on the TV only to find out the president was speaking . . . on all three channels!

Why did I feel this way? Simply because I didn’t know my grandmother like my mother did. I perceived her visit as drudgery and a fate worse than death! It was something that I had to endure with gritted teeth, and I counted the days—not until she arrived—but until she left.

Seeing the relationship she had with her, I guess I could understand why my mother was super-excited, and as time grew closer for my grandmother to arrive, my mother would literally levitate with joy. My mom would pull out our big family calendar in the kitchen and happily and hummingly (yes, I made that word up) mark the days off one by one.

Finally the day came when we needed to pick up my grandmother from the airport. Mom made sure we were extra clean and presentable—ugh, we even had to wear church clothes! As my mom got to the baggage claim area, she didn’t stop there; oh no, she kept on going until we were the very first ones lined up right outside the gate where my grandmother was to exit.

Finally the gate door would swing open and among the thronging sea of heads, my mom would spot my grandmother, and predictably, she would lose what was left of her already fleeting dignity by screaming out like a schoolgirl. My grandmother, in response, would also inappropriately scream out; then there would be many tears of joy, hugs, kisses, and painful squeezing—lots of squeezing.

My mother knew, loved, and cherished my grandmother, and when told she would be seeing her face to face, she couldn’t contain her excitement and joy. So why, when hit between the eyes with the reality that Jesus is coming back very soon, have I been getting apathetic, apprehensive, anxious, conflicted, fearful, and many times outright “I don’t want Jesus to come” responses from a lot of people? Let me be more specific: I’ve been getting those responses from a lot of Christians! This is a big problem! This response is to be expected from non-Christians, but shouldn’t we as Christians be excited, joyful, and even—gasp—come a little unhinged with wild-eyed, frothy-mouthed rabidity that Jesus is clearly coming soon—in person—to see us?

Satan has fooled many Christians into thinking that what’s happening here and now on this broken-down earth is all there is, or the best there is! But it isn’t! The apostle John warns us: “Don’t love the world or anything that belongs to the world. If you love the world, you cannot love the Father. Our foolish pride comes from this world, and so do our selfish desires and our desire to have everything we see. None of this comes from the Father. The world and the desires it causes are disappearing. But if we obey God, we will live forever” (1 John 2:15-17, CEV).1  You see, having a real relationship with Jesus is an “either-or” proposition; you can’t have it both ways.

Is it possible that those responses are akin to my response to being told that my grandmother was coming to visit? Is it possible that there are—not just a few but—many Christians who not only aren’t prepared for Jesus to come, but simply don’t want Him to return because they simply don’t know Him?

Jesus actually spoke very clearly about this issue in Matthew 25, the chapter following His specific description of which events would happen prior to His return (see Matthew 24). In Luke 21 there is an alternate account of what Jesus told His disciples about the signs of His return. Take note what a stark difference in responses there will be from those who know and don’t know Him: “People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (verses 26-28, NIV).2  

The apostle Peter decided to write to Christians and remind us of the reality of what is to come:

“My dear friends, . . . I have written to encourage you to do some honest thinking [I love it]. I don’t want you to forget what God’s prophets said would happen.” “The day of the Lord’s return will surprise us like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a loud noise, and the heat will melt the whole universe . . . Everything will be destroyed. So you should serve and honor God by the way you live. You should look forward to the day when God judges everyone, and you should try to make it come soon. [WHAT?!] On that day the heavens will be destroyed by fire, and everything else will melt in the heat. But God has promised us a new heaven and a new earth, where justice will rule. We are really looking forward to that! My friends, while you are waiting, you should make certain that the Lord finds you pure, spotless, and living at peace” (2 Peter 3:1, 2, 10-14, CEV).

So after reading that, how are you doing? Starting to feel some conviction? I sure am. Peter takes aim and with both barrels and rightly readjusts our perspectives and paradigms. He says that not only should we be excited about Jesus’ return, but we should be working on becoming holier. We should even be working to make Jesus’ return come even sooner!

In Revelation 21, the second-to-last chapter of the last book of the Bible, the apostle John, banished to the island of Patmos for sharing his faith, reminds us of Jesus’ soon return . . . it’s almost as though he doesn’t want us to get so bogged down, so broken down, so discouraged and distracted that we forget that Jesus is coming soon! John gives us this incredible description of what heaven will be like: “God’s home is now with his people. He will live with them, and they will be his own. Yes, God will make his home among his people. He will wipe all tears from their eyes, and there will be no more death, suffering, crying, or pain. These things of the past are gone forever” (verses 3, 4, CEV). John also gives a resounding reminder that not only will we be living with God, but that we “will see him face to face” (Revelation 22:4, CEV).

So let me ask you a question: as you live your life, read the paper, watch the news, and witness all the things—that have been prophesied about—happening before your very eyes, what is your response? Do you truly know Jesus? Are you excited, hopeful, and anticipatory for Jesus to return? I certainly hope so.

When given those specific visions of what was to come, John’s response was what I hope yours and mine will be: six simple but powerfully hopeful words: “So, Lord Jesus, please come soon!” (Revelation 22:20, CEV).

1 Scripture quotations identified CEV are from the Contemporary English Version. Copyright © American Bible Society 1991, 1995. Used by permission.

2 Scripture quotations credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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