It was always interesting to me, that when Caryl and I would be returning home from time away, one of the kids would always call to find out where we were and when we would be home. Now at first we thought that maybe they missed us or had a situation that needed to be worked out. The truth was, they wanted to know how much time they had to get the house in order!
I wonder how many would be ready if Jesus showed up today, tonight, tomorrow or even next week. It seems to me that most of us have become distracted by life. Yet, I know that the knowledge of His imminent return would definitely motivate us to do some house cleaning.
The Lord knows us, and that is why the Bible does not give us the specifics on when Jesus is coming for his saints in the rapture. When Jesus was asked when the end times would take place, Jesus responded, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” (Acts 1:7) We believe that the Bible contains everything that we need to know and nothing more. Now, this does not mean that we do not have questions about the Bible or areas when the Bible is silent. It simply means that the Lord reveals to us what we need to know. Here, Jesus reminds his followers that the time of his arrival is not necessary.
Now the Bible does give us many signs of the end times and that his return is very close. Several indications are related to the condition of the Church. There will be a denial of God, a denial of Jesus, a denial of Jesus’ return, a denial of faith, a denial of Biblical teaching, an abandonment of Godly living, a decline of morals, and a rejection of authority to name a few. We do not have to look very hard to see this in our culture and even within those who profess to love and follow Jesus. But what is interesting is that the admonition is not to allow ourselves to focus on what is happening around us, but to focus on Jesus!
Paul’s admonition to Timothy is to follow his Godly example. “You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me…” (2 Timothy 3:10–11a) The Apostle Paul, who was burdened just like us with what was happening around him, reminds the believers in Corinth, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God… Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 10:31-11:1) The reason why these admonitions are so important is that you and I become what we focus on. If we focus on all that is wrong we run the risk of cultivating bitterness in our lives. But when we focus on the Lord by keeping a clean heart, we move from bondage to freedom.
My adult children would later recount the stress of getting things back in order before mom and dad pulled into the driveway. We know that Jesus is on his way. What if he is just down the street? Jesus reminded his followers not to worry about when he was coming home, but to focus instead on why we are here. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
-Pastor Joe Parkinson