I came to faith in the early '70s when the Jesus Movement was in full swing. We believed that Jesus Christ was coming back again soon. We talked about it a lot. But Jesus didn't come back in the '70s — or in the '80s or '90s for that matter.
Is the Lord late? Of course not. Peter wrote, "The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9 NIV). God is waiting to bring more people into His kingdom, and then at the appointed hour, Jesus Christ will return.
In the New Testament's 260 chapters, Christ's return is mentioned no less than 318 times. Statistically, one verse for every 25 pages of the Bible refers to the return of Jesus Christ in some way, shape, or form. Make no mistake about it: Jesus Christ will come back again, and God has given us specific instructions for what we are to do while we wait.
First, we are to be watching for Him. "Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching" (Luke 12:37 NKJV). We shouldn't get caught up in the things that dominate the minds and hearts of nonbelievers, such as what we will eat, drink, and wear. Instead, we should be consumed with our pursuit of the kingdom of God. We should seek, above all, the rule and reign of Jesus Christ in our lives.
Second, we should be ready to go. Let me ask you this: If Christ came back today, would you be ready to go with Him? If Christ came back at that moment, would a place where you're about to go or a thing you're about to do cause you to be ashamed or embarrassed in any way? If so, then you need to change what you're doing. If you are not living in a way that is pleasing to Him right now, then His return will come as a great shock and surprise to you.
Third, we should want to become more like Jesus Christ each day. According to 2 Peter 3:11-14, "You ought to live holy and godly lives.... So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with Him" (NIV). If you have a real sense of His imminent return, then it will impact the way you live and will cause you to purify yourself, even as He is pure (1 John 3:3).
Fourth, we should anxiously await His return. Have you ever been looking forward to seeing someone? You wait for the sound of that person's car in the driveway. You pull the door open before your friend can even knock. That's what it means to "anxiously await" someone's arrival. If anything would cause us hesitancy in saying, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Revelation 22:20 NKJV), then we need to carefully examine our lives.
Finally, we should be working (Luke 12:43). While watching is the evidence of faith, working is the evidence of faith in action. Watching for the Lord's return will help us prepare our own lives, but working will assure that we will take others with us.
Charles Spurgeon said, "It is a very blessed thing to be on the watch for Christ. It is a blessing to us now. How it detaches us from this world. You can be poor without murmuring. You can be rich without worldliness. You can be sick without sorrowing. You can be healthy without presumption. If you are always waiting for Christ's coming, untold blessings are wrapped up in that glorious hope."
It is liberating and joyful to anticipate the Lord's return and be ready to meet Him. Are your bags packed? Are you ready to go? If you want to be a happy person, then live your life looking forward to Christ's soon return.
The story of Johnny Cash’s life and spiritual struggles offers hope to anyone who has had trouble staying on the straight and narrow path—and reminds us that God redeems broken lives and makes them whole again. My new book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon is a fascinating look at a unique and talented musician and follower of Christ!