Note: See previous post for introduction to this post.
1. Jesus will return...just not for you
This is a lie that has seeped into the church especially traditional, fundamental churches. This lie says that there will be a return, but you haven't done enough, aren't good enough, or are sinful enough that you won't get to enter into the promised land. There have been too many people on their death beds, calling in the preacher to assure them of their salvation, for this not to be a lie we have heard and listen to. The real unfortunate and sad reality of this lie, is that the kind of preaching I heard as a child has contributed to that lie. The Hell, Fire, and Brimstone preaching has left people scared of God. In order to motivate people to repentance we created a generation or generations of people who cannot believe that God will ever accept them. TRUTH: grace is free and gift, not a prize. Follow Jesus and He will return...for you.
2. The return of Jesus isn't all that important
I might get some pushback on this one. I think we all can say with words and as an intellectual idea that the return of Jesus is important. However, we live life between Sundays with little to no thought about His return and without any sense of urgency. When Paul wrote his letters to the churches you get a sense of urgency about Jesus' return. He is really interested in being ready for a return that will happen before he dies. Then in his last letters written, you get the sense that Paul has changed his thinking. He now sees the possibility of dying before Jesus' return. However, he still stays urgent for Jesus' return. I'm not suggesting we go out and rent a billboard and begin predicting Jesus' return. I am suggesting that the life we live is founded on the idea that Jesus will return. We plan our lives all the way to the end many times. We plan with an automatic thought that we will die before Jesus' return. I wonder how it would change how we live if we lived as if Jesus was returning any moment. Would we serve those in need with abandon? Would we save less and give more? Would we savor moments longer? Would we spend more time in community? Would we speak of Him more?
3. What we do now has nothing to do with the end
Just reading that sentence it almost sounds like we can bring about the end or stave it off. That is not what I'm suggesting. The end is coming when God decides it's time. However, we have lived life with the idea that what we should do with our time now is simply stay on track so that we won't jeopardize our place in heaven. We may also find that we have been taught that our sole job, here and now is to teach others about Jesus. We become serial teachers who have no relationship with those who come to faith. I think that teaching is part of what we do. If I didn't I wouldn't have much appreciation for my craft and I would be reading my Bible sideways. I would challenge you to read the gospels with one purpose in mind. Read the gospels and mark out what Jesus DOES while here on Earth. It is pretty remarkable what Jesus does during his 3 years of ministry. Much of what he does is teaching. As you look at his interactions between teaching moments you find someone who is with His father, the people, and mostly with the people who everyone else think are the least and worst of society. Jesus was hanging out with tax collectors, prostitutes, cheaters, the angry, those that oppressed others, drunks, demon-possessed, and those that could never give anything back. So when we look at what Jesus did, he didn't jump in a faith bunker and shy away from the world until his return to heaven. We need to get out of faith bunkers, our overwhelming ideology that "bad company corrupts good morals." We need to get out into the world and embrace them and then just like Jesus give them a new story to live. A story of restoration, life, and abundance of God. A full life. Telling that story leads people to Jesus and helps us understand the cosmic battle Jesus is in and why His return is a divine experience for us and Him.
Lies have developed in our faith and we can even justify them through scripture. remember Satan did this too when he tempted Jesus. We must seek out truth! Jesus' return isn't about us going to heaven. Jesus' return is about the finality of the cosmic battle of evil and good and the final defeat of Satan. It is about our eternal rescue. It is about the relationship of the divine and humanity becoming one, marriage of the two. It is about the restoration of all things. Listen to the truth. Look for the truth in scripture. And anticipate greatly Jesus' return!