The sign in the church-yard read “Cheer up – the Lord may return today!” Initially that struck me as somewhat amusing, but it is really quite a sobering question! I wondered, “Is that a cheerful thought to me; what about to other people?” Unfortunately that is probably not a thought that brings cheer to the lives of many – maybe it is not as cheerful a thought as it should be to those of us who profess to be Christians either!
Our Lord Jesus came to this earth two thousand years ago, as He once put it, “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). We are promised that He will come again, and the fulfillment of this promise of God, as with all His promises, is of absolute certainty. Jesus also told us that when He returns, one of two fates awaits us: eternal life or eternal punishment (Matthew 25:46). Knowing this, we should be spending our lives in
preparation of that day, so that we will not be found lacking. But there is another aspect of the promise of Christ’s second coming: “…of that day and hour no man knows…but my Father only.” (Matthew 24:36). Unlike most appointments in this life, we do not know when this “appointment” will be kept – only that it WILL be kept (Hebrews 9:27). Therefore, we must constantly be prepared, such as the “Minute Men” of the Revolutionary War, who were ready at any moment to answer the battle call. This is a challenging task, as it means that no matter what we are doing, where we are, we should always be ready for Christ’s return (I Thessalonians 5:2-6).
With these few thoughts in mind, think again: “does the thought that Christ might return today make me happy, or depressed – am I looking forward to it?” Well, the thought of Christ’s return should make any Christian extremely happy. Afterall, He will be coming to take us home, where there will be no more tears, sorrows, nor pain (Revelation 21:4). Notice the language Peter uses in II Peter 3:12: “looking for and hastening unto the coming of the day of the Lord”. This means we are to be anxious about His return, not fearful or dreadful of it. It should be the day we are living for, the climax to our lives, something we are yearning for. But for anyone not a
Christian, or a Christian not living as the Bible instructs, it will be a day of darkness and destruction. The Hebrew writer reminds us in Hebrews 10:31 that it can be a terrifying thing to fall into God’s hands. Yet for the obedient, Christ’s return will be a day of joy and happiness.
Which way will you view the thought of Christ possibly returning today – with contempt, indifference, or cheer? It can be either a day of magnificent reward, or of horrible punishment. ALL will bow before the Lord on that day (Philippians 2:10-11), and call Him “Lord”. All of us will give account of our deeds (Romans 14:11-12). May we all be able to express Paul’s same sentiments as in I Corinthians 16:22: “Maranatha”, meaning “O Lord,come!”