“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16)
Growing up, that was one of my favorite verses. To me, it was a perfect description of how incredible the moment of Jesus’ return will be for his followers.
But when is Jesus coming back?
It’s a question I have heard frequently asked and one I’ve asked myself even more frequently. I’m sure we all have.
To be honest, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with that question. On the one hand, I’m curious. I want to know. On the other hand, I’ve become so sick of the YouTube clickbait and apparent prophecies. Only yesterday, another one of those videos popped up in my feed. Can you relate?
I remember a conversation I had a few years ago regarding Jesus’ return. Now, I shake my head when I remember myself confidently saying, “I don’t think it’s very probable that Jesus will come back soon.”
The person with whom I was having the conversation, was slightly wiser. Her response? “With every day that passes, it is more probable that Jesus will come back tomorrow.”
What did Jesus say about his return? One of my favorite books of the Bible is Revelation. In the last chapter, in the second to last verse of the Bible, it says, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely, I am coming soon.’” (Revelation 22:20, emphasis added)
Jesus promised he is coming soon. When exactly that will be, however, is not for us humans to know. 1 Thessalonians 5:2 says, “For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.”
And guess what? “When is Jesus coming back?” is not even the question we should be focusing on.
The question we should be asking is not “When?” but “Am I ready?”
Are you ready to meet your maker? Are you ready to meet the one who is not only the Creator, but also the Judge? Are you ready to stand before God?
“Oh, yes,” you may say. “I’ve already prayed the prayer.” While that’s good, it’s not enough.
Don’t get me wrong. We are saved by grace alone and faith alone; not by works. But our interaction with God doesn’t end once we’ve asked for forgiveness for sins. That’s only the beginning.
So what is a Christian’s task in his or her day-to-day life? We are to—with God’s help—always live a life “worthy of the calling” (Ephesians 4:1). We are to go through life focusing on Jesus’s ways and commands, focusing on glorifying Him.
If you knew that Jesus was coming back soon, how would you change your life? This is another question I have both been asked and asked myself numerous times. And yet, so often, it remains hypothetical.
What if you knew that Jesus was coming back soon?
You do. You do know that he is coming back soon.
There’s an interesting phenomenon I’ve noticed. About ten minutes before guests arrive is when one cleans the fastest and the best. It’s the same with assignments. Shortly before the assignment is due, I concentrate more intently than I did before.
If an event is going to happen soon, one is much more focused on the task ahead. Therefore, it helps me to remind myself that the one coming to pick me up will soon be here, that my “assignment” is soon due.
Recently, someone in my youth group asked us what we would change about our lives if Jesus were coming back in six months. The response of most? Share the gospel. While we do not know when Jesus is coming back, we know it is soon. Shouldn’t that be reason alone to share the gospel?
I love the analogy of a car that is approaching a person who is standing in the middle of the road. When a car is still far away, we might calmly warn the person, who is standing in the middle of the road. As the car comes closer, our warnings will become louder and more urgent.
When Jesus returns a second time, he isn’t coming as a Savior, but as a Judge. And his judgement will be happening “soon.” You know that. I know that. What will you–what will I–do about it? Keeping the message of salvation to ourselves is the most selfish thing we can do.
“How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:14)
For the past 2000 years Christians have held onto Jesus’ promised return. My great-grandmother was convinced that she would experience it, that she would still be alive at Christ’s return. But she died and Jesus still hasn’t returned.
I don’t know if I will still be here on this earth when Jesus returns, but I do know this: With every generation that passes, it becomes more and more probable that Jesus will return while they are still alive.
With that in mind, I turn it to you: are you giving it your all, the way I give it my all when an assignment is due soon?
Yesterday is past, but today hasn’t. You can’t change the past, but you can change the present. Live today as if Jesus will come back soon. Because that’s what he promised.
“Maranatha! Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (1 Corinthians 16:22, Revelation 22:20)