The Rev. Raymond Davis Jr., founder and emeritus, Greater Corinthian Church of the Christ: This question gives focus to a Christian teaching of priority — the return of Christ. The church calls this “coming soon,” the second coming of Christ Jesus, speaking to this event inspired great explanation with great expectation.
Jesus’ return is not according to knowing “when.” Rather, scripture has Jesus saying, “but of that day and hour no man knoweth; no, not the angels in heaven, but My Father only.” But he does place before his followers a term of great moral worth, the word, “Watch.”
Consider what he says (Matthew 24:42): “Watch therefore; for you know not what hour your Lord doth come … be ye also ready.”
Regarding this teaching, skepticism abounds among men, high and low, in refute of this great hope. Consider: “Where is the promise of his coming?” But scripture rebuffs these skeptics, who are called scoffers; it is careful to keep believers’ faith in touch with God’s time.
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Be not ignorant of this one thing — one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise as some men count slackness. (2 Peter 3:3-4; 9-10)
A full knowledge of his side of Gospel teaching — Jesus’ return is a declaration of a glorious future.
Therefore we are encouraged to comfort one another with this doctrine.
The Rev. Holly McKissick, Peace Christian Church UCC: It’s really not that hard to explain. The scriptures often tell us more about what people wanted Jesus to say than what he actually said.
This quote from the book of Revelation is a case in point. It was written down some 70 years after the time of Jesus. These “apocalyptic” scriptures — those that express hope that Jesus will return with a big bang, end the world as we know it and swoop up the faithful few — are not the heart of Jesus’ teachings but are found along the edges of the scripture quilt.
The writer who recorded these words lived in a Christian community experiencing persecution; think the ancient equivalent of embassy bombings and hostage standoffs. Not to mention the daily grind of disease and hunger.
They’d had it. They were worn down; the bumper stickers on their wagons read, “I’m already against the next war.” Some longed for a savior who would come back and carry them to a safe haven, and soon.
They faced the same choice we face: Escape the world or get engaged and improve it. I’m not staring at the heavens looking for a savior to return and rescue me, but I have my ways of escaping: shopping and screens, exercise and eating.
That’s OK, now and then, but what Jesus needs is a Christian community committed to the heart of his teaching: bringing good news to the poor and liberty to the oppressed, creating a just, peaceful world for all.
The Star’s Voices of Faith writers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.