C.S. Lewis famously asserted that Jesus Christ can only be one of three things: a liar, a lunatic or the Lord of life. People who speak of respecting Jesus for his morals or his philosophy don’t know what they’re talking about. Christ’s very words do not give us that option. For he said things that only a madman would say – such as in making the claim to his followers that one day he would return to earth. You either run from a person who says such things – or you fall down and worship him.
As we think about the return of Christ, an obvious question comes to mind: What’s the reason for it? What’s it all about? (Other than just mucking up a lot of plans we might be making.)
No other religion has a teaching quite like this. Muslims don’t believe that Mohammed resurrected from the dead nor that he is returning to earth (yet they claim that he is greater than Jesus – oh, okay.) Buddhists aren’t looking for Buddha to return. Some Eastern religions teach the reincarnation of great figures from their past. But reincarnation is a far cry from resurrection. In Eastern religions, life is a wheel, a circle of birth, death and rebirth, going nowhere, and ultimately ending in nothingness.
Atheists have their own religion, their own priests (e.g. Al Gore), their own eschatology (a fancy word Christian theologians use to refer to the “end times”.) They worship at the shrine of evolution, and believe that if the human race does not destroy itself, then nature will finish us off through any number of extinction level events – a comet, a caldera, global warming, an uprising of apes. Or one day, if we make it that far – the sun will just give out.
Here again, life is going nowhere, ending in nothingness. Not one of us makes it out of existence still existing.
Christianity is unique among the faiths and philosophies of the world in declaring that there is a point to it all, and that history is actually taking us somewhere because there is an intelligent, loving Creator overseeing it. History is his story.
John in the first chapter of Revelation writes, “Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come.” Life is not a wheel spinning in place, but a line taking us into the future, with a beginning, a middle and an end, and all of it superintended by God.
If we missed it the first time, God speaks for himself in verse 8: “I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” If this is true, then everything that has taken place in the past, everything that is taking place as we speak, and everything that is yet to come is all part of this grand story which God is writing.
If we missed it the second time, Jesus gets in on the act, declaring in verse 17 – “Don’t be afraid. I am the First and the Last.” How many ways can it be said? And so you see, the return of Christ to the earth signals the closing chapter of this story, this drama, that stretches out over thousands of years, of God rescuing the human race from its sin.
The rise and fall of nations is all part of this story. The life, death and resurrection of Israel – part of this story. The life, death and resurrection of Christ – the most pivotal, page-turning, plot-twisting core of the entire story. The 2,000 years since, part of the story. What’s happening in the world today – conflict in the Middle East, expansion of China, North Korea’s missile-rattling – all part of the story.
Your life, your existence, the choices you are making today – all of it also is part of this incredible story.
The amazing thing about how God is writing this story is that he occasionally turns to you and me and puts the pen in our hands. He’ll see to its ultimate ending – he’ll make sure the good guys win and the bad guys lose – but there are many places along the way where God turns to you and me and says, “You take it from here. Give me a page. Contribute a verse.”
So what are you doing with that part of the story that God is allowing you to write? Sadly, so few seem willing to contribute anything worthwhile to the story, and tragically, so few will be ready when Jesus Christ returns.