If the shops are to be believed, it is fast approaching Christmas (sorry…!), but with that comes the cry of children (and some older), ‘Is he nearly here yet?’ ‘He’ in this sense meaning the bringer of presents, Father Christmas. There is great anticipation of how much longer it will be to wait. The same is true if you are expecting a longed for guest, or an eagerly anticipated occasion.
For the early Christian Church, they had the same eager expectation and anticipation of Jesus return to collect them. So much so, that some were claiming to know the day, or that he was already here – often claiming a “divine word” on the matter.
The Lord’s Return
2 When our Lord Jesus returns, we will be gathered up to meet him. So I ask you, my friends, 2 not to be easily upset or disturbed by people who claim that the Lord has already come. They may say that they heard this directly from the Holy Spirit, or from someone else, or even that they read it in one of our letters. 3 But don’t be fooled! People will rebel against God. Then before the Lord returns, the wicked one who is doomed to be destroyed will appear. 4 He will brag and oppose everything that is holy or sacred. He will even sit in God’s temple and claim to be God. 5 Don’t you remember that I told you this while I was still with you?
13 My friends, the Lord loves you, and it is only natural for us to thank God for you. God chose you to be the first ones to be saved. His Spirit made you holy, and you put your faith in the truth. 14 God used our preaching as his way of inviting you to share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15 My friends, that’s why you must remain faithful and follow closely what we taught you in person and by our letters.
16 God our Father loves us. He is kind and has given us eternal comfort and a wonderful hope. We pray that our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father 17 will encourage you and help you always to do and say the right thing.
The authors of this letter are telling the Thessalonians not to jump the gun. Not to read into things what aren’t there.
Because the trouble is, if you spend so much time looking to the future, hoping and dreaming about it, you miss living in the present. Yes they, and we, are to look to the future and prepare ourselves for God’s return, but we do that in the here and now. Whatever others might be speculating about, our business is living for God where we are.
The Thessalonians are promised a share of God’s glory, but that will come through their faithfulness as they live day by day while they wait. God has given them comfort and hope, but he has given them life today.
So, like them, we are called, not to wish our lives away, but to live them now – for there is much to be done.
much as there is to look forward to
in your coming again,
may I not spend all my time
that I miss what you are doing today –
and with me