Saturday, December 31, 2011

Wait a second

For many, 2011 has been a long and economically challenging year, and the start of 2012 is a welcome new beginning. I think that most can attest that no matter one's level of patience, it can be a stretching and growing experience to wait on God for a year or more of rocky times. But if the year of 2011 has been a long time to wait on God, then how much longer is 2011 years to wait for "the second coming," Jesus' promised return? If Jesus were to come again, I have often wondered why he has taken two millenia--and counting--to do so. I mean, if people still aren't believing in him, what better way would it be to convince them than to make a dramatic appearance?

But then I got to thinking of his time course in the past, and why he might even choose to delay his coming for longer. It took him quite some time to attend to his first coming. If we measure from the time of the first writings of Scripture in the Torah, one could argue that he waited a good millennium or so to make his first appearance. And if we were to count from the beginning of creation, then we're looking at up to a multi-billion year delay before his first arrival. With that in mind, a 2,000 year delay in his reappearance is paltry at best.

More importantly, I realized that he may have an actual purpose in not returning so soon. For one, he has already expressed that his appearance by itself would not necessarily change hearts, as his first arrival had only emboldened many to bring him to his crucifixion. Instead of rushing his second arrival to turn hearts toward him, he may have in fact delayed his coming for this same effect.

Indeed, perhaps one of the most powerful points of his credibility is the fact that he has stood the test of time. Even for those who do not believe in him as God and Savior, the persistent longevity of his wisdom, of his message and example of love, justice, and forgiveness, still ring true thousands of years after he first spoke them. It would be one thing to hear this message spoken at an inspirational seminar, harbor a warm fuzzy feeling in one's heart on the way home, and promptly forget about it upon returning to work. It's another to inspire a generation to sacrifice their lives for a fiery orator's cause, only for the next generation to shun or forget such philosophy. But it's another entirely for the message to live on, no matter how misused, abused, or misinterpreted, to continue to humble and convict and energize those from all walks of life to live a life of service. Had Jesus returned in 70 AD to set up his kingdom, we would never know in our hearts whether his message would stand the test of time. If he had swooped in during the Plague or returned during the World Wars, we would never know if his message would have persisted on its own through some of its greatest tests.

Perhaps he will come tomorrow, or next year, or perhaps it will be another billion years before his next arrival. In any case, his message is alive and well, and so is he.
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