Sunday, Dec. 2, marked the beginning of Advent, the season when we Christians celebrate the expected second coming of Jesus Christ.
How near are we to that moment when He will walk once again among us? Luke 21:5-6 says some of the disciples were remarking about how beautiful the Temple was and Jesus told them, “The time will come when not one stone will be left.”
“Teacher, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?” they asked. Christ answered, “When you hear of wars and revolutions…nations will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places and fearful events and great signs from heaven.”
Jeremiah 33:15-16 tells us that, at His first coming, Christ set up His reign in the hearts of His believers. At His second coming, He will execute justice and righteousness throughout the whole earth. Later on in the discussion, Jesus told his followers, “Keep watch, observe the signs of the times.”
More and more, lately, we have seen earthquakes, super storms, wars and rumors of wars, famine and pestilences in various places throughout the world. Men have shown hatred and evil against neighbors, brothers, sisters, wives and children. We are living, as some say, in the last and evil days.
Are these the signs of Jesus’ imminent return? And if they are, what can we do to attain salvation?
During his discussion with His disciples, Christ went on to give them hope, saying, “Do not be afraid… but make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. For I will give you words and wisdom which none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict.”
Christ taught the disciples that though spiritual judgments were the most common in the Gospel times, God does make use of temporal judgments also. Christ told them (and us) of the hardships they would suffer for His name’s sake. And He told them, “Bear with the trials, and go on with your earthly work,” for some day they would meet with God.
With the threatening signs of the times all around us, one cannot help but ask, “Are these the signs of the time of Jesus’ return?” Our greatest danger today is that the Day of Judgment could come tomorrow and most of us will not be prepared for it.
Jesus says in Luke 21:36, “Keep watch and pray that you will be able to stand before the Son of Man.” He implied that many will not get to stand before Him in Heaven because they will go straight to Hell, while yet others will be given a day in court. Do you ever ask yourself, “Will I be found worthy to stand before Christ on Judgment Day?”
Christ, in essence, said to His disciples that those who will be found worthy to live in the other world are those who live daily in prayer in this world. If we spend time every day in prayer, then we will not be found wanting when Jesus comes back again.
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door UCC in Miami’s Liberty City community. He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or firstname.lastname@example.org