“Is it the end of the world?” seemed to be the question of the year during this pandemic. Christians ask it a little differently: “is Jesus going to come back soon?”
He promised his second coming many times throughout the Bible. Though we cannot predict the season or hour, we have wondered if 2020 would set the stage.
Jesus came first to save the world: infinite God became an infant (yay Christmas!), lived a perfect life and died as our substitute payment for humanities rebellion (a heart-wrenching Good Friday). He rose again from the grave, proving His deity and power over death (Hallelujah, Easter!).
Now we, His beloved yet separated-by-sin humanity, have a chance at abundant life with God, both on earth and in eternity. We must believe and accept this grace-gift, get off the throne of our own lives, and follow Jesus as our Lord and Savior.
That was Jesus’ first coming. And its call the Good News, in case you were wondering.
Jesus’ second coming seals the deal. He will make all things new. The reign he begins in each Christian’s surrendered heart will, at last, encompass our whole world.
Can you picture Eden restored?
Abundant life, bone-deep peace, inhale and exhale with no inhibition of anxiety or illness or pollution. A perfect justice system. Peace between races, generations, and families. All work is delight, and each cell of our brain capacity, now caged by our fallen nature, unlocked to full potential. Most profoundly, humanity in face-to-face intimacy with love-Himself: God!
No wonder we cry out “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20)
So I asked myself all year, “will Jesus come?” And now, well into 2021, I look back and see that He did.
It wasn’t a second-coming in all His glory. But it was a faithful-every-second coming into all our perplexing mess.
He did not mobilize heavens armies to conquer the earth this year, but He did mobilize His people to foster the fatherless, to feed their hungry neighbors, and to speak hope in the midst of a pandemic.
He did not bring His plan of justice to completion yet, but He did continue it. The Holy Spirit changed hearts—those who were paying attention—to turn from our all-about-me lifestyles, our lack of dependence on God, and our idolatrous busyness, even in ministry.
Jesus did not come in 2020 to bring all things under His control, but He did offer His people self-control, faithfulness, and an opportunity to surrender daily to Him.
He did not pick this year to come and make all things new, but He did come and He made me new. He restored my soul. If you belong to Jesus, I’m guessing you have a similar story.
The world keeps waiting, watching, wondering, “is this the end?” We who are the freed ones get to ponder a different narrative: how Jesus is still coming, and all the ways He already has. He is our already-but-not-yet hope.
And since our arms are wide open in waiting, we extend the invitation to everyone else: “And let the one who hears say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” (Revelation 22:17)
The waiting gives us daily second chances to invite others into the family of God. People who have yet to hear the Good News are all around us; they live in our neighborhood, they attend our kids’ school, they check out our groceries and style our hair. We were in their shoes, once, until someone shared the Hope of Jesus with us. That someone told me about Jesus is a gift I cannot keep to myself.
So let’s make next year a water-in-hand waiting, ever ready to share it with those still thirsty, until Jesus comes.
Originally published in The Pastor’s Corner for The Sheridan Press.
Becky Rosty is the Co-Director of Collegiate Ministries alongside her husband, Shane, who also serves as the student ministries pastor at First Baptist Church. To put more spark in your faith journey, or to purchase Joyfully Ever After, Becky’s Bible study for young women, visit beckyrosty.com.