The Lord’s return shouldn’t ever catch us by surprise
First, Jesus’ return should be anticipated as a time of victory and reunion, giving believers encouragement and comfort in times of grief and struggle. Paul reminds the Thessalonians that when Jesus returns, he will reunite Christians and take them home to be with him forever. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; cf. 1 Corinthians 15) Rather than arguing about the exact time or details of his return, we should comfort and encourage each other with the promise of our victorious and joyous reunion with the Lord.

Second, since we cannot know the exact day or hour of Jesus’ return, we should live each day in anticipation of his imminent return. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11) In addition to anticipating his return, our lives should be characterized by the holy character that Jesus desires from each of us. We shouldn’t be surprised if the Lord broke into history at any time and our lives should be lived in preparation of this day.

Third, rather than getting all hung up on the particulars of Jesus’ reign and victorious Kingdom, we need to remember our primary purpose. We are put here to be witnesses to the lost world, sharing with them of life, work, and salvation of Jesus. (Acts 1:6-8) The Lord wants us to be involved in bringing others into the Kingdom of God by sharing the good news of God’s grace and the salvation that is found in Jesus alone.

While theological issues do matter, let’s not let our fascination with the particulars, our different understandings from others, and the popular discussions on the Lord’s return distract us from the clear call of God. Jesus wants us to anticipate his return with joy and confidence. The Lord’s return shouldn’t ever catch us by surprise; our lives must be lived each day in anticipation of his return and full of holy living that reflects his character. Finally, we must never lose sight of our call to share the good news of Jesus with those who don’t know his saving grace.

And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness that the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on that great day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his glorious return. (2 Timothy 4:8)

[ Phil Ware is minister of a church in Abilene, Texas. He also has an online ministry called Heartlight. Many thanks to whoever sent us this good article some months ago! –avw ]