By Alan Smith
We're still here! Despite the
prophesies of Harold Camping, we made it through 2011 without seeing
the return of Jesus Christ. Camping, you will recall, is the
one who predicted that Christ would return on May 21, 2011, and when
that didn't happen, he revised his predicted date to October 21,
I am hard pressed to explain the motives of
people who try to predict the date of the second coming of Christ,
and even more, to explain the gullibility of those who continue to
believe them in the face of Jesus’ own words: “But of that day and
hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but
only the Father.” (Mark 13:32).
Do I believe Jesus is going to return
personally, visibly, and bodily? Absolutely yes. Do I
believe that his return will bring time as we know it to an end ?
Yes. Do I believe his return will result in a separation of
the saved and the lost for all eternity? Yes. Then why
am I not interested in trying to figure out when that return will
be? As Rubel Shelly has put it, for the same reason that I
have never needed anybody to stand guard and tell me when my wife
was pulling up in the driveway or coming into the room. I am
her husband when we are together and when we are apart, and I will
be faithful to her in either setting.
I think God knew that if he gave us the
precise time of Christ’s return that the natural tendency of folks
would be to put off following Christ till the last minute.
That’s only natural. Parents and teens have experienced this
first hand. If the parents leave the house in the morning and
say, “We’ll be back at 5:00 this afternoon. We expect for the
kitchen to be clean when we get back”, what happens? You know
exactly what happens. The teens watch TV, play on the
computer, read their books until 4:30. And then it’s a mad
rush to get it finished before Mom and Dad walk through the door!
But suppose the parents leave in the
morning and they say, “We’ll be back after a while. We expect
for the kitchen to be clean when we return”, now what happens?
A precise time hasn’t been given. So the teens go through a
thought process something like this -- “I can probably get away with
waiting until noon until I get started -- but no, they could come
home earlier than that -- the only safe thing to do is clean it now
and keep it clean till they get back”
When you don’t know the exact time that
someone is coming, it changes your whole outlook on getting
ready. That’s why Jesus said, “It could be in a few years, it
could be in a few decades, it could be in a few centuries, it could
be in a few millennia. It doesn’t matter that you know when it
is, it only matters that you know that it’s going to happen, that
you get yourself ready now, and that you stay ready.”
I love the story that’s told about Colonel
Davenport, a former Speaker of the Connecticut House of
Representatives. On May 19th, 1780 the sky of Hartford
darkened ominously, and some of the representatives, glancing out
the windows, feared the end was at hand. They started calling
for an immediate adjournment, but Davenport rose up and said, "The
Day of Judgment is either approaching or it is not. If it is not,
there is no cause for adjournment. If it is, I choose to be found
doing my duty. Therefore, I wish that candles be brought."
I like his thinking. If Jesus Christ
is coming in the next few minutes, I want him to find me doing what
I’m supposed to be doing. Bring on the candles!
“Watch therefore, for you do not know what
hour your Lord is coming.” (Matthew 24:42).
Have a great day!
- Alan Smith, author of the popular "Thought For Today," and
minister for the Fayetteville Church of Christ in Fayetteville, NC,
may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org