Stasi and I were having dinner last night with some dear friends, leaders of a ministry and seminary. At one point in the conversation the husband said something to the effect of, "I am praying daily for the return of Jesus." And it stopped me in my tracks - because I can't recall the last time I heard anyone say that. Can you? I stopped the conversation to ask him, "Is that common in your circles? Do you know a number of Christians who are praying for the return of Jesus?"
He paused, and then said, "Actually, no. No one."
His wife added, "No one talks about it. Our church has never preached on it that I can remember."
That's my experience, too, and it feels very revealing to me.
The return of Christ to the earth, and his ushering in the Kingdom of God feels like a pretty central part of our faith. Kind of crucial, really. But as I have attempted in various conversations with Christians to bring up the imminent return of Jesus, the mood turned awkward - like I wanted to talk about UFOs. Pushing into the subject, that I believe the return of Jesus is very near at hand, their mood turns foreboding, like I wanted to talk about their likelihood of getting cancer. I don't get it.
Are we afraid of the second coming?
Is this not something we are looking forward to?!
Two ideas are absolutely basic to a Christian understanding of this world: First, that you are created for happiness and second, that you will not truly be happy until Jesus returns and brings into fullness the Kingdom of God. So what's with the awkwardness of Christians taking about his return, and, more fascinating (and troubling) what's with no none really praying for it?
I want to venture an observation: If you are not personally longing for and praying for the return of Jesus, you are still committed to making life work here and now. Our prayers reveal what we are after. So if you are not praying for the return of Jesus, you are not banking on it or looking forward to it much.
But...you are created for happiness, and you are not going to truly find it until the kingdom is yours.
At the end of the book of Revelation, which is the end of the entire Bible narrative, the church is longing for and praying for the return of Jesus: "The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!'" Note the exclamation point. As in, "Please come! Come now! We want you to come!" This isn't UFOs or a fear of dying. This is hopeful, eager expectation of every dream you ever had coming true. This is the expectation of life coming to you in all its fullness. Not to mention your Jesus coming to you. And never ever losing it again.
Of course my friend is praying for it daily! Let's join him!