Jesus’ triumphant return
While there are many unknowns regarding Jesus’ return, we can be certain that He will come back. We know this because His word declares it. Of course, we don’t know when that will be (Matthew 24:36). It could happen in our lifetime or it could happen after our generation passes. What is clear, is that we should always be ready for His return and look forward to that day (Matthew 24:44). Jesus also made it clear that His return will be quick and unexpected. However, we should be reminded that God has work for us to do while we wait for Him (Ephesians 2:10). He commands us to love Him and love our neighbor (Luke 10:27). He commands us to reach the world with the Gospel (Matthew 28:19-20). He commands us to be the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). He told us we will be the light in a dark world (John 8:12).
Jesus told us to be watchful of His return, even though we don’t know when it will be. He correlated watching out for His return with a homeowner taking care of his house… “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.” Matthew 24:42-43
Notice that in this parable, the homeowner didn’t abandon his home. Instead, he kept watch over his home and protected it. Through this parable Jesus is telling us that we are to remain vigilant over what is happening on earth while we wait for Him. As temporary as it may be, earth is our home until we meet Jesus in heaven. Jesus wants us to be doing the good works He has planned for us, even though we don’t know when His return will be. A similar parable in the Gospel of Luke, explains what Jesus desires from us while we wait… “occupy till I come” Luke 19:13.
We must define “the world” in context
What exactly should we be doing while we wait for His return? Most Christians agree that one key to growing our personal relationships with Jesus is to distance ourselves from the world. While this teaching is true in a sense, it is often used out of context. In biblical terms, there are three different meanings for the word “world”…
- People in the world (John 3:16, 1 John 4:9)
- The physical earth (Hebrews 1:2, John 13:1)
- Sin of the world (Matthew 18:7, John 15:19, 1 John 4:5)
God never commanded us to not love people. When God commands us to not love the world, He is referring to sin or sinful things. We are not to love sin, or essentially, the world’s way of living. “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them.” 1 John 2:15
Your relationship with Jesus in relation to politics
Some Christians believe that we shouldn’t be involved in politics, because God commanded us to not love the world. However, in the context of 1 John 2:15 (and other similar verses), the world does not equate to politics. Politics are defined as the way we govern our lives and are not inherently evil. God has clearly called us to govern our lives in obedience to Him. He instituted government for our good (Romans 13:1-4) and so we each have a role in government, at least to some degree.
Looking forward to Jesus’ return and caring about politics do not have to be mutually exclusive. We are called to love people. Politics are directly related to people (the world). Politics are intertwined with our relationship to Jesus. He is our King and our lives are governed by Him. Therefore, our political stances should be in alignment with God’s word.
It is easy to get discouraged when politics get ugly. When our favorite candidate doesn’t get elected, we want to give up, because we see no hope. However, when men and women of faith avoid politics, the worse our nation becomes. We falsely believe that we should give up when our nation is struggling, yet that is precisely when our nation needs us the most. In order to oppose the world system, we must do so actively. And we must bring our faith into the political realm until Jesus returns. Believe it or not, your relationship with Jesus could actually blossom by doing so.