You know what used to be easy? Going places. It’s true. When I was younger if somebody called me up on the spot and asked me to come over, I literally could say, “Alright, I’ll be right over,” and it was accurate. Maybe put a different shirt on, maybe a little hair gel, and voila, I was ready to go. But you know what’s not easy now? Going places. And you know why that is? Because I not only have me to get ready to go, but I have a whole family to get ready to go. As a result, there is very little spur of the moment going places, because frankly, it takes so much work. You parents know what I speak of. To get ready, my wife has to make sure my 3 boys are dressed (not always something to be counted on). Then they have to get their shoes on, which means they have to find their socks, which usually takes 30 minutes. If it’s winter, they have to find their jackets, which tacks on another 10 minutes. On top of that, we have to get things ready for Lincoln the toddler which up until recently (Hallelujah!) meant we had to pack diapers, wipes, milk, juice, at least 8 changes of clothes, a stroller, a jacket, and shoes. Tack on another 20 minutes. By the time that’s all done, my older boys have vanished playing somewhere down the block, so I have to go outside and yell for them. By the time they get back, we try loading them in the car (it’s a mini-van. Don’t be jealous). They fight over who sits where for a little bit, I strap the toddler in and we’re finally all situated. Then without fail, I realize I didn’t lock the door to the house, so I have to take a trip back up the stairs to make sure the door’s locked. While doing so, I realize we left a light on and the T.V.’s on. I turn off the T.V., turn off the lights, lock the door, head downstairs, sit in my seat and amazingly, am able to start the car. By that time, we’re tired enough that the only thing we’re ready for is a nap!
All this to say, sometimes it’s not easy getting ready.
And yet, as difficult as it is for us to get ready for even the most basic life-tasks, our Lord asks us to “be ready” for his second coming! To make matters even more challenging He tells us that we need to be ready for His coming AT ANY TIME! So how is it we can be ready for this cataclysmic event, when some of us can barely get ready to go anywhere?
Maybe we should we try and figure out the day…..
That certainly has been a fairly normal practice throughout history. After all, Jesus does say there will be signs of His coming, so it makes sense that people would try and interpret those signs hoping to pin down the date (most recently you had the Blood Moon-Shemitah nonsense). I've been to prophecy conferences and have seen even seemingly sound Bible teachers get oh so close to predicting the time of Jesus’ coming.
The problem with this option is what Jesus says: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36). What’s Jesus’ point?
Therefore, we are doing nothing but wasting our time if we spend it seeking to figure out the exact day. He will come as a thief in the night and just like the flood of Noah’s day came suddenly, no one will have the exact intel beforehand. So if anyone tells you they've figured out the time, just do yourself a favor and say buh-bye.
Well if that won’t help us get ready, then
Maybe we should go into hiding…..
Again, like the practice of predicting the date, Christians throughout history have been drawn towards exiting from normal life in anticipation of the end. These folks might not be saying they know the exact time, but they are pretty certain it will be in their generation. Therefore, they quit working or seek a more communal setting until the day comes.
Is there something to this idea of huddling together in escape?
Not really. And here’s why: Jesus says the way it will be when He returns is people will “be eating, drinking, and marrying etc.” (in other words, living normal lives). Jesus tells us that at His return, the believer and the unbeliever both are working in the field and they are both grinding at the mill. One will be taken and the other left. In the Thessalonian Church when some started to quit working in anticipation of Jesus’ return, Paul specifically rebukes them saying,
“If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.”
The point is, we do not escape normal life expectations by waiting in a commune somewhere for the end to come, but we engage in the normal day to day activities of our given vocations. We are in the world, but not of the world as Jesus says in another place (John 17:14-16). So the good news for you is that you don’t have to start making your own clothes, hunting your own food and storing up grain in your backyard in order to be ready for the end to come (although you can if that makes you happy).
Well, since we who can barely get ready for church will not be made more ready by trying to figure out the date or by isolating ourselves from normal life
Maybe we should we just ignore it….
In any number of churches this seems to be the defacto position, because talk of Jesus’ return never seems to come up. Focused so much on the felt needs of our hearers at any given moment, talk of the second coming can seem either too abstract or too far out there for us to spend too much time dwelling on it.
The problem is of course, Jesus says to do just the opposite: He commands us to “keep watch”. He likens us to an owner of a house who is constantly on the lookout for a burglar. In Greek, you might be able to say it this way: Keep on keeping watch! Commentator R.C. H. Lenski captures the feel when he paraphrases it “Constantly keep your eyes open.”
So let’s put this all together: We shouldn’t ignore his coming, but we shouldn’t try and figure out the day, nor should we excuse ourselves from life. Rather, the picture that seems to be created for us is that we go to work and invest, and play with our kids and eat and have fun and witness to our neighbors and do all of life’s regular activities while always at the same time living in utter awareness that today might just be the day it all ends.
So are you ready….. enough?
I can’t tell you how many preachers I heard growing up that would ask that question, remain dramatically silent for a long while, and then ask us to do an inventory of our sins. “Are you really ready or…. are you lusting? Are you really ready or….. have you been lazy? Are you really ready or…. are you walking in the flesh?” Now of course, every single person in that room, based on the criteria the preacher gave would have to say (if they’re honest), “No, I’m not ready. I’ve forgotten, I’ve become distracted. I can barely get my family ready for Church, let alone get myself ready for the second coming of Christ!” And that confession would be honest, true and accurate to some extent about every one of us. None of us, in it of ourselves are ready enough. So does that mean then we’re doomed? Well, contrary to what that old preacher might tell you, I’m here to tell you the good news that your readiness for the last day ultimately isn’t up to you.
The Bible declares that our redemption is something that Christ has already accomplished for you.
Thus Paul writes to the Philippians in 1:6: “And I am sure (certain, persuaded, convinced) of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Who’s doing the verbs?). Or check out what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians: “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thess. 5:23-24)- (Again, who’s doing the verbs?)
Or lastly, listen to Ephesians 6: Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.
Do you see it? It is actually through believing that Jesus has made you ready enough that you ARE READY ENOUGH. It is dwelling on “the gospel of peace” (that is, what Jesus has done for us) that readies us. Jesus was ready in your place through His perfect life. He was ready in your place through His sacrificial death. Jesus was ready in your place at His resurrection. He was ready in your place at His ascension and He’ll be ready in your place to take you home to be with Him again. So we watch for His return with great anticipation! We look for His coming again, because we know that then all fear will be alleviated and all sin will be gone and our faith will be sight. We look up because “our redemption draws near”! So even if you can barely get ready for Church, the good news is Jesus has made you ready for His coming.
Erick is married to Melissa and they have 3 boys together. He earned his Master of Divinity Degree from Lutheran Brethren Seminary and has served as a Pastor in Fontana, California and Staten Island, New York. He also serves as the Chairman of Fifth Act Church Planting. In September of 2015 Erick started to plant Epiphany Lutheran Church in Manhattan.