When He returns is not as important as the fact that we are ready for Him when He does return. ―A.W. Tozer
My mom was a working, single mom. (For the record, these people are among the highest level of superheroes.)
This meant that my siblings and I would usually come home from school to find the house empty because mom had to go to work. She put a procedure in place for when this happened. We were to lock the doors, find the list that she left for us, and then call her to let her know we were all safely at home. One of the most important rules she had was: Anytime mom was not home, NO FRIENDS WERE ALLOWED IN THE HOUSE!
In our defense, we did a pretty good job of keeping the rules. It's just that sometimes we would get distracted or tempted by a friend who came by with the newest Nintendo game. When this did happen, the sibling bartering would begin. (Every person who has ever had a sibling knows about this bartering.) It typically goes something like this:
“If you don’t tell mom, I’ll let you play.”
“No, I’m gonna need to play and you have to do my part of the chores.”
“Ugh, you’re such a jerk! Fine! I’ll do it!”
Then we would call mom.
“Hi mom. What time are you coming home?”
This part was probably the most important part of getting away with our plan. After all, we needed to know how much time we had before we needed to get rid of our friends. We also needed to know how much time we had before we had to start on our chores in order to get them done just before she arrived.
“I’ll be home when I get home. You just get your chores done first and you won’t have to worry about when I get home. And remember, NO FRIENDS!”
It seemed like every time we tried to pull this off, mom would pull into the driveway while we were still in the middle of a game with our friends, and none of the chores were done. We'd rush our friends out the backdoor and then finally start attacking our chores at a hundred miles an hour thinking that somehow, by some miracle, we could get them done before she could get out of the car and into the house.
Needless to say, we failed every time. In hindsight, we were not only disobedient, but we showed no consideration for the sacrifices that our mother made for us. She sacrificed for us and we acted like selfish brats. How many Christians practice this today?
Don't let him show up when you weren't expecting and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: Stay alert! (CEB, Mark 13:36-37).
As a pastor I often have people ask me about the end times. Everyone wants to know when Jesus is coming back.
“Do you think He’ll come back soon?”
“Surely, He’s coming this year.”
My response, and my stance, is simply this: Jesus will come back and the righteous will be raised to an everlasting life, and the unrighteous to an everlasting death. That’s all we need to know.
Whenever we would ask my mom about when she was coming home, she would remind us that when she came home was irrelevant. The only thing we needed to be concerned with was doing as we were told. The tasks and obedience were all that mattered. She also knew (as all moms do) that if we were asking, it was probably because we were not going to obey until the very last possible second. (That’s when she’d call the neighbor to peek in on us.) I doubt the motives are much different for the believer who is overly concerned about the time of His coming. Many simply don't want to act in obedience until the last possible second.
Jesus points out that the believer is to be ready, at all times. This readiness is accomplished through obedience; that is, through loving God and loving our neighbor as ourselves. When we practice this, our anticipation of His return becomes a blessing not a curse. You see, when we disobeyed my mother, we didn’t see her return as a blessing. How sad. My mom didn’t get to spend much time with her kids because we were at school or she was at work. And when she did come home, we did n't act like kids who loved and missed her. Instead, we often acted as if her return was an inconvenience upon our lives. Our selfishness and disobedience led us to see my mother's return as a curse. Do we do the same with Christ?
He sacrificed everything for us. Do we show the respect and
love due Him by living every moment of our lives in readiness for His return? Do we anticipate Jesus with open arms, or in fear? The Advent season that brings us to Christmas is supposed to remind us that we should anticipate His return with hope, peace, joy, and love. In reality, however, this can only be done if we commit to living our lives in holiness.
Imagine the witness to the world, and the testament of our love for God, if we simply lived every moment as if Christ was about to return. We would be found obeying His commands and sacrificing everything about our own lives in order to share His love with others. Surely, this would please Him more than anything else. I know it would have pleased my mom.
Grafted by His Grace,
Pastor Raul Granillo