When I hear the phrase “the event” I think of how television networks promote something big that is coming up. You know:
– The event of the year
– The biggest event ever
– The biggest and the brightest on one stage for one night
– Or even the short-lived TV show – “The Event” that I could never really get into or understand – you know – airplanes popping out of wormholes, blah, blah, blah…
For our conversation at church titled “2o12 – Is This the End?” we talked about “the event” as the fulfillment of Jesus promise – “I’ll be back.” (Still said it before Arnold; no imitation Austrian accent.) Jesus makes reference to this when talking with his disciples. The Apostle Paul picks up the idea and uses it as a motivational tool for forming and shaping church communities. While Chicken Little runs around saying “the sky is falling, the sky is falling…” Paul counters with “Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming!” Hear the subtle difference?
Doomsday preppers and end of the world theorists are predicting the total collapse of organized and civilized society. Thank you to movies like 2012, Armageddon, Deep Impact, 28 Weeks Later, The Road Warrior/Mad Max series, The Road, The Book of Eli and on – we have Hollywood images of anarchy and the struggle to provide for basic needs. The assumption is that if our government and society breakdown, it will be survival of the best prepared and the fittest!
Well – that certainly sounds comforting! A message of hope for the ages! NOT!
I love Paul’s opening line to chapter 4 of First Thessalonians: “I would not have you to be uniformed brother and sisters…” As one person noted we would probably say it like this “I want to make sure you fully understand what I am saying…” (Insert active listening skills by reflecting back to the person what you just heard them say) “So Paul – what I hear you say is that you want to make sure I fully understand your teaching on this subject. Right?”
So let’s fully understand – Paul taught the people that God honors his promises. The problem in Thessalonica – good Christians are dying. They were wrestling with this because of Paul’s teaching that the return of Jesus was imminent.
“But wonderful Mrs. Stein has died! What do we make of that?”
Be fully informed. What God promised through Jesus Christ was his return to usher in a new era. What God did not promise was when. Paul believed it to be in his day; some of us may be looking at the signs and think it could happen in our day. Realistically – none of us knows when.
Response: a faithful pursuit of God’s sanctification. A historic Methodist question that ordinands are asked when standing before the clergy session of annual conference is “Are you going on to Christian perfection in this life?” The story goes that one ordinand answered the question with “NO!” The presiding Bishop responded “Then what are you going on to?”
The timing of Christ’s return to this earth is not for us to know. What we can be fully informed in is the demand to become more like Christ each and every day. The Event is the coming of Jesus to this world through each of us – his followers, his ambassadors, his mimics and imitators.
“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 2:5a, KJV)
“Whatever you do and say, let it be a representation of Jesus…” (Colossians 3:17, NLT)
Question: Are you looking for the event of Christ’s coming to happen outside of you or inside of you?