As many people are aware, in recent weeks there has been a great deal of attention paid to a Christian leader named Harold Camping and his group of followers who have predicted the end of the world on May 21 at 6 p.m. Certainly the man is completely off base in his predictions and there is an ample amount of ridicule being circulated in response to Camping and similar predictions about the ‘end of the world’. People like Camping do absolutely nothing but create problems for the broader Christian community by making a mockery of the faith in the eyes of many people who are not Christ followers.
However what I want to comment on is what I see as the potential ‘bright side’ of this entire drama.
Since the 1980’s and the rise and fall in popularity of Hal Lindsay, who also wrote extensively and convincingly on the end-times and the return of Christ, the whole topic of the ‘end-times’ or eschatology, has fallen out of vogue (so to speak) in the majority of Church circles.
Speaking as an ordained pastor myself, I can say from experience that all that is expected of most pastors today is to simply affirm that Jesus Christ will return physically to the earth one day. The details of how or the sequence of events leading up to his return are seen as a matter of personal belief. This has led to very little teaching in evangelical circles on the Biblical teachings on the return of Christ.
This in turn has resulted in most Christians being woefully illiterate on the subject and far worse, they are apathetic and indifferent about Christ’s coming. It is most commonly seen as an event that will happen far in the future, beyond the time of our own earthly lives. Further still, many Christians see the return of Christ as a ‘scary time’ that they honestly hope to avoid!
This a significant problem because when you look at the Scriptures, you see that the return of Christ is the great hope of the Christian faith. In 2 Timothy 4:8 the apostle Paul states that it is central to our faith that we anticipate and actually long for Christ’s return. Paul was coming toward the end of his life and reflecting back on his ministry and writes this:
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. – 2 Tim. 4:7-8 (emphasis added)
Similarly, in 1 Corinthians Paul expresses the same thing saying that the believers would ‘eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus to be revealed’ (1 Cor. 1:7).
There is a great need in the Church today for proper teaching on the return of Christ; teaching that again stirs our hearts toward longing for the return of Christ our King. There has always been tremendous debate over the events leading up to Christ’s coming, but when we look at Scripture we see is that the intent is for us to be fixed primarily on the person who is coming and not only on the process of his return. Both are very important, but they must be in proper order. Our great hope is that our King of Kings, Jesus Christ will come again to rule and reign over all the nations and people of the earth!
I am praying these days quite a bit about this theme, asking God to awaken passion in the Church for the coming of Christ again to the earth. I am reminded that as Christians, “we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13)
Amen, come Lord Jesus, come!
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