The question “what do you do for a living” is something of an occupational hazard when you are a pastor. The response of “I’m a pastor” can shut down a conversation, lead to a list of complaints about the Church, etc. With Christians, it can also lead to them gleefully sharing their favorite Christian topic, which is often the end times. This happened recently, with an individual I just met sharing at length about the imminent end of the world. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been told that the world was ending in ____ number of days or months. Many Christians are transfixed with the end of the world as we know it and the second coming of Christ, and with good reason. We live in a world full of problems and struggles. The idea that Christ is returning soon to bring God’s perfect Kingdom to earth is an exciting one! For some the imminent return of Christ is issue number one, while for others it is far on the back burner. While this topic can be controversial, I want us to look at a small, but important, part of it today. What does the return of Christ mean and how should it impact my life?
I fully realize this is one of the most debated and divisive topics in the Church. We argue over pre/post/a/millennial, rapture, literal versus symbolic, and more. Amidst all this debate we can miss the whole point: Jesus WILL come again to bring the Kingdom of God to earth! Here is just one Scripture on this promise:
But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Hebrews 29:26-28
Jesus has already won the ultimate victory for us on the cross. Because of that victory, God has a plan to have Christ return to perfect our imperfect world. The world as we know it will cease. While we can debate all sorts of things, what is clear is that those who have accepted Christ Jesus as Lord will get to experience eternity in this perfect Kingdom, and those who did not will be cast out. In other words, there are consequences for accepting or rejecting Christ. This should be the ultimate motivation for us to share the good news with others. I love how a friend of mine responds to questions about when the world will end. He says he’s not on the program committee (note: no humans are!), so he doesn’t know the date. He is, however, on the marketing team (as we all are called to be), and he wants everyone possible to be in God’s Kingdom. Do we have that attitude? Do we understand that a decision for or against Christ has consequences, and are we ready to be part of the Kingdom’s marketing team?