When He Comes
A few weeks ago, I was sitting in the living room of longtime Northpoint member Glenn Davidson (who went to be with the Lord on April 26, at age 83). As I put my arm around Glenn to pray with him, his energy was so depleted and his body was so frail that I could feel the outline of his ribs as he struggled to lift his head to make eye contact. Cancer had reduced this once-strong man and paragon of resolve to a walker-dependent, nearly immobile sufferer.
What do you say to someone who has all but reached the end of his days on earth?
I listened as Glenn’s precious wife, Amy, shared some beautiful stories of her husband’s graciousness and quiet strength. For example, it grieved Glenn so deeply to discipline his kids that he would often wait until Amy had left the room and then loudly “spank” the couch instead of his children, thus seemingly fulfilling his wife’s (very fair) wish for a measure of justice, while actually sparing his children the punishment they deserved. In between reflections, I opened the Scriptures and read Psalm 121, the same Song of Ascent that Amy asked me to read at Glenn’s memorial service: “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” There is no greater comfort for the Christian than in knowing that the one who created all things will also preserve and keep those who are his, and ensure that they will be with him for all eternity. Where God dwells with his people there will be no cancer. Neither will there be tear ducts, for crying will be a thing of the past.
That said, in my estimation, one of the most neglected aspects of the Christian faith—and I am certainly guilty, myself—is the return of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures make it clear that Jesus is going to return in great power and glory. “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command,” the apostle Paul reminds, “with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18)
In his essay, “The World’s Last Night,” C.S. Lewis cautions: “It seems to me impossible to retain in any recognisable form our belief in the Divinity of Christ and the truth of the Christian revelation while abandoning, or even persistently neglecting, the promised, and threatened, Return. ‘He shall come again to judge the quick and the dead,’ says the Apostles’ Creed. ‘This same Jesus,’ said the angels in Acts, ‘shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.’ ‘Hereafter,’ said our Lord himself (by those words inviting crucifixion), ‘shall ye see the Son of Man . . . coming in the clouds of heaven.’ If this is not an integral part of the faith once given to the saints, I do not know what is.”
Perhaps one reason the return of Jesus is often ignored is that there are so many aspects to it that are mysterious and unknown. When will Jesus come? No one knows but the Father. What will the Son of Man look like when he pierces the clouds? We simply don’t have the details. One thing we know for certain, though, is that we should be praying for Christ’s return.
This Sunday, Dr. Stefanos Mihalios, our missionary to Greece and a renown Johannine scholar, will be preaching on Revelation 22:20: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.” Stefanos will set up the context and explain why this prayer serves as a tremendous hope for broken people like us.
We will also celebrate the Lord’s Table together. Are you looking forward with anticipation to what God may do in and through you on the Lord’s Day? I’ll see you in a few days, should Christ delay.