According to the Mayan calendar, 2012 was supposed to be the year the world would end. I was amazed at how some people actually were concerned about this, though they disregarded the one reliable book that predicts the future – not once, not twice, but hundreds of times with absolutely accuracy. They will completely blow off the Bible and instead pay attention to the Mayan calendar.
There were also a lot of articles and blogs written last year about what to do if the end of the world is coming. Here were a few ideas:
- End your diet immediately.
- Park wherever and however you want.
- Resolve to hit the gym tomorrow.
- Listen to “It’s the End of the World as We Know It” by REM.
- Throw out that bucket list.
- Make a lot of noise in the library.
- Touch everything that has a “Do Not Touch” sign in the museum.
- Order 4,500 pizzas and give one to every stranger you meet. (I liked this one.)
- Leave the toilet seat up.
- Go to the store and buy 2013 calendars. They are probably on sale.
- Find a Twinkie.
I went out on a limb and dared to say that the end of the world according to the Mayan calendar was not going to occur. But the Bible does have a lot to say about the last days and about the imminent return of Jesus. There are 260 chapters in the New Testament, and Christ’s return is mentioned no less than 318 times in those chapters. Statistically, one in every 25 verses mentions the return of Jesus Christ.
Jesus himself spoke of this often. He said, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:38 NKJV). He also said, “I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2–3).
When I became a Christian in 1970, the Jesus Movement, as it was called, was in full swing. A lot of young people were coming to Christ. There was a lot of talk about the soon return of Jesus. It was very common to see bumper stickers on cars with slogans such as, “In case of Rapture, this car will be unmanned.” There were many stickers that said, “Jesus is coming!”
I don’t know how many of those I have gone through since then, but quite a few. Still he hasn’t come. Some people would say, “You are all wrong. Maybe he is never coming.”
But here is what the Bible says in response to that: “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9 NLT).
Peter continues on and says, “But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise. … Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live” (verse 10).
Peter was emphasizing that if you really believe Jesus is coming back, then it should impact the way you live. And if it doesn’t impact the way you live, then you are completely missing the point. So how should we be living?
We should be watching for him. Jesus said, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28 NKJV). As we look at what is happening in our world today, we can have our Bible in one hand and our tablet or newspaper in the other and see how Bible prophecy is being fulfilled before our eyes. The Middle East is a powder keg. It could blow up at any time. There is an outbreak of excessive acts of violence in our culture like we have never seen before.
We should be ready to go. When I go on a trip, I always pack my bags the night before, especially if it is an early morning flight. I will always have everything ready to go. I want to be to the flight on time. So I prepare ahead of time. In the same way, we want to be ready to go when Jesus returns. And to be ready for the return of Jesus is to be engaged in activities you would not be ashamed of if Jesus were to come. It is a good thing to ask yourself periodically, “This place that I am about to go, this thing that I am about to do, would I be embarrassed or ashamed of it if Jesus were to come back?” If the answer is yes, then don’t do it.
We should be working. The Bible says that faith without works is dead (see James 2:20). If watching is the evidence of faith, then working is the evidence of faith in action. Watching for the return of Christ will help us prepare our own lives, but working will ensure that we bring others with us. Jesus was saying there is a blessedness in living this way: “Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes” (Luke 12:37). Another way to translate the word “blessed” is “happy.” Happy are those servants. …
C.H. Spurgeon wrote, “It is a very blessed thing to be on the watch for Christ, it is a blessing for us now. How it detaches you from the world! You can be poor without murmuring; you can be rich without worldliness; you can be sick without sorrowing; you can be healthy without presumption. If you are always waiting for Christ’s coming, untold blessings are wrapped up in that glorious hope.”
Looking for the return of Christ is not a miserable or repressive or confining way to live. It is a happy, joyful, and purposeful way to live.