SIMPLE TRUTH: Mixed feelings about Christ’s return

Published 12:06 pm Thursday, December 26, 2013

By Charles Christmas

I certainly do have mixed feelings about the return of Christ. To begin with, I personally do not desire that he return right now. Why? I have children, grandchildren and friends who are not ready for his return. I am praying for them and seeking earnestly to be available to the Lord and to them as an instrument of God’s saving grace and mercy.

One reason I am not anxious for his return now is because I enjoy my life in Christ now. While many are singing “In the Sweet By and By,” I would like to be singing “In the Blessed Here and Now.” Jesus said that if we try to keep our life we shall lose it, but if we lose our life for his sake we shall find life. I like the attempt to give my life away to and for him, and to and for others in his name, though I fail miserably.

The Apostle Paul struck a wonderful balance in his personal feelings about the return of Christ or believer’s death. “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I go on living in the body, that will mean fruitful labor for me. What shall I choose? I don’t know! Torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ which is better by far; but it is more needful for you that I remain in the body.” (Phillipians 1:21-24)

But on the other hand, on behalf of many others, I would echo the last prayer in the Bible: “Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20) I have my own personal homebound ministry which the Lord has entrusted to me. This consists of 13 persons, not members of my church, living in our county-wide area. Eight of these are retired pastors and wives; two are Alzheimer patients; another is under oxygen, struggling for breath and another person lives with seemingly unbearable pain. Among the others, one weeps with constant pain; for another it requires two strong persons to give her a little chair relief from a bedridden life.

When I visited one of these yesterday, she exclaimed with a glow on her face, “Lord Jesus, come and get me now! I want you to come! I am ready!” Not for the caregiving mate or family member, but for each of these bonafide homebound persons, I certainly cry out in their behalf as true Christ believers, “Come, Lord Jesus.” And you are acquainted with examples of Christians in nursing homes and residing at their own homes who have no greater desire than that Jesus Christ come now or let them “fall asleep in Jesus.”

The Bible is very clear on the truth that physical suffering can intensify the desire for the return of Christ or to become “asleep in Jesus.” The Apostle Paul emphasized this often: “We groan and are burdened in this body, longing for our heavenly dwelling.” (2 Corinthians 5:2-5) “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18) Standing by the bedside of the faithful Christian lady, I read the following Bible passage: “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2) She responded: “Glory!”

The time of the return of Jesus Christ is totally in the Father’s hand. To have a fulfilling life now, and to be ready for his return then, is simply summarized by the chorus of an old hymn: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” We begin the Christian life through a trusting commitment to the Christ of the Cross and the Resurrection. We can only love him through obeying his word.

—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.