Are We There Yet?
Jul 10, 2013 1457
Anyone who has travelled with small children has heard the question, “Are we there yet?” repeated (literally) ad nauseum. It is almost as if the time in between where we came from and where we are going, at best just doesn’t matter; and at worst, is simply horrible and pointless.
The second coming of Jesus has been confessed in all the great creeds of Christendom. The Nicene Creed, for examples states that, “He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.” However, some streams of Christianity have highlighted the second coming of Jesus more than others. Additionally, different streams of Christianity have adopted different attitudes to the return of Jesus. Let me be very clear that the second coming of Jesus is hugely important, and that the appropriate attitude that we should have towards it is one of joyful assurance and hope.
But some Christians live this life constantly asking the question, “Are we there yet?” They ask this question by their attitudes, their behavior, and their theology – as if the bit in between the origin and the destination doesn’t matter; as if it is just simply horrible and pointless. To live with the second coming as our only and exclusive hope, continually wondering why Jesus hasn’t come yet, and regretting that we are still here on this earth is to dishonor the Lord Jesus, and to discredit the good news of His gospel.
This is a misguided focus that reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the gospel. In fact, when the New Testament refers to the second coming as being delayed, Jesus puts this in the mouth of an “evil servant,” and the apostle Peter calls those who say such things “scoffers.” (Luke 12:45; 2 Peter 3:3–4). Those who follow the “beam-me-up-Scottie” religion might be surprised to take note of Jesus prayer: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.” (John 17:15.)
Instead, the “blessed hope “ can only be truly “blessed” when we see it through the lens of the cross. Because of the cross we have been given abundant and eternal life, we are citizens of His kingdom today, and we now sit in heavenly places with Him. (Titus 2:13; John 10:10; Col. 1:13) Then promises are ours. And if there are hard times for us until He appears, we count them as “pure joy” (James 1:15), knowing that we are “in Christ,” and that we are loved by the One who has already won. We can only truly know how the story ends if we are living His victory today. Without this, the expectation of the second coming is just depressing theory.
This is the message of the New Testament. And it is from this perspective that we are called to look forward to that inevitable day of His coming when He will erupt again into the history of this world. That will be the day when the righteousness of Christ through which we have been saved will overflow across this world from sea to sea, from east to west, and from earth to sky, and He will make all things new.
We are called to be the eternally joyful, and not the perpetually disappointed.