Christians do not merely talk about who Jesus WAS… we talk about who He IS! We do not only talk about Jesus in the past-tense, we talk about Jesus in the present-tense because He is still alive and ruling over His creation.
The Nicene Creed declares the following about Jesus Christ: “…and (he) ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father. And he will come again with glory to judge both the quick and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end.”
What difference would it make in your daily life if you consistently remembered that Jesus is actually alive and interceding to God the Father on your behalf and that one day He is returning? A few years ago I attended a conference where Francis Chan spoke about his Grandma Clara, and I found a similar video on YouTube, take a look:
We do not live in constant fear that if Jesus returns while we’re playing video games or at a movie then he’s not going to reject us. We are accepted or rejected by Christ depending upon whether or not we accept or reject his call to deny ourselves and carry his cross daily. None of us are perfect, but I think many of us use that as an excuse to not have to follow Jesus as carefully as we know we should.
I think that Acts 1:9-11 might contain the verse that most makes me laugh. Imagine the scene: Jesus is meeting with the apostles and talking with them, then he rises into the sky and floats on a cloud into Heaven. Suddenly, an angel appears and asks, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky?” I hope I’m not being sacrilegious, but isn’t that a silly question! The angel then says, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” I wonder if the apostles were standing there, rubbing their hands together saying, “Do it again! Do it again!”
A few chapters later, in Acts 7:55-56, we read, “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’” Stephen saw Jesus alive in Heaven! What a wonderful sight.
People say “History repeats itself.” There are definitely principles and lessons we see at work throughout time and culture that show themselves time and time again. But history does not merely repeat itself like a never-ending cycle. God is the Author of all creation, and He has a goal, a purpose, for humanity. We’re going somewhere… we’re on the move! God is at work through history, bringing us closer and closer to the final goal: complete redemption of His creation so that we would honor Him we were intended.
From what I see in Scripture (and maybe this is a topic for another, fuller, blog post?), God has something of a “Two-Step Plan of Redemption:”
- Deal with sin in the human heart through the cross. If Jesus had fixed everything in this world without dealing with the root of sin in our hearts, then we’d only mess it all up again!
- Deal with the effects of sin in all creation through judgment of this world and all that’s in it and the re-creation of the New Heavens and New Earth
When Jesus returns, He will return as both Savior and Judge. “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will give to each person according to what he has done.” To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism.” (Romans 2:5-11)
We all need to ask ourselves the tough question: “Am I storing up wrath or treasures in heaven?” Hell is never fun or easy to talk about, but it is a very real reality. Sin must be judged, that’s why Jesus died on the cross – to rescue us from judgment and to bring us back into a right relationship with our Creator!
So practically, what does the “Rule & Return of Christ” mean for us:
- We should not talk about Jesus in the past-tense (“Jesus was God”)… He is still very much alive!
- We should redefine personal success as “Being and doing all that God created you to be and do.” He who dies with the most toys doesn’t win! Remember the Pharaoh’s tombs were found with treasures still in there, they couldn’t take the treasure into the afterlife with them.
- We need to always be ready to meet our Savior. Again, this ought to flow from worship (not fear!), we want to bring Jesus joy because of where He finds us.
- We need to always be ready to introduce our Savior to others (instead of always putting it off, assuming there will be more time).