Every parent of little children who has travelled has heard the question “Are we there yet?” repeated endlessly. It nearly seems as though the distance between our current location and our destination is, in the best-case scenario, meaningless and awful.
All of the major creeds of Christianity affirm that Jesus will return. “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end,” according to the Nicene Creed. But more than others, some Christian traditions have emphasised Jesus’ second coming. Furthermore, diverse Christian traditions have taken differing stances about the second coming. Let me state unequivocally that we should approach the second coming of Jesus with glad assurance and hope because it is a very significant event.
However, there are Christians who ask themselves, “Are we there yet?” every moment of their lives. By their attitudes, actions, and religion, they pose this question as though the distance between the starting point and the final destination is meaningless and awful. It is a dishonour to the Lord Jesus and a disservice to the good news of His gospel to live with the second coming as our one and only hope, to wonder constantly why Jesus hasn’t returned, and to lament that we are still here on earth.
This is a misplaced emphasis that exposes a basic misreading of the gospel. In fact, Jesus attributes the delay of the second coming to the words of a “evil servant,” and the apostle Peter labels individuals who make similar claims as “scoffers” when they do so in the New Testament. (See Luke 12:45 and 2 Peter 3–4). The following passage from Jesus’ prayer may surprise those who adhere to the “beam-me-up-Scottie” religion:
John 17:15 “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”
Rather, the “blessed hope” is only genuinely “blessed” when it is viewed through the perspective of the cross. We now live in His kingdom, have abundant and eternal life because of the cross, and are seated with Him in heavenly realms. (John 10:10, Titus 2:13, Col. 1:13). Then we have our promises. Because we are “in Christ” and are loved by the One Who has already triumphed, we count any difficult times we face before He returns as “pure joy” (James 1:15).
Only if we are experiencing His victory in our daily lives can we fully comprehend how the story ends. The expectation of the second coming of Christ is just gloomy theory without this.The New Testament conveys this lesson and it is from this standpoint that we are urged to anticipate the day of His coming, which is unavoidable and on which He will suddenly reappear in this world’s history. On that day, Christ will create everything new and the righteousness that has redeemed us will spill over into every corner of our planet, from east to west, from sea to sea, and from earth to sky.
Our calling in Christ is to be the people who are always happy, not the people who are always sad because Jesus hasn’t returned yet!