Ever since Jesus came to earth over 2,000 years ago, there has been a lot of discussion among Christians about His second coming. Much of that discussion involves the first portion of Revelation 22:12, in which Jesus states “Behold, I am coming soon…” And as Christians, we understand that those words are true. Yet for some reason there seems to be a misunderstanding in regards to what soon actually means in the context of Jesus’ return.
What does soon actually mean? Does soon mean tomorrow? Does it mean a month from now? Does it mean a year from now? Or maybe the word soon is not a reference to a specific date or time at all. Consider these words from Jesus… “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36) And if no one knows the day, can one know the week, month, year, decade, or century?
The phrase “coming soon” literally means “coming swiftly, quickly or suddenly“. Therefore, Jesus will return in the blink of an eye and promptly. His return is not overdue. He will return in His perfect timing. What seems like a delay to some is only a demonstration of His patience toward those who do not yet know Him… “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
It seems obvious that since Jesus said He was coming back soon over 2,000 years ago, He was not using the word “soon” in the context of a date or time. Yet many Christians still take his words out of context and lead others to believe that He will return in a matter of years from now. As Christians we should be careful with our words when we share with an unbelieving world. When we tell those who already have a lack of understanding of our faith, that Jesus is coming back soon, we should be cautious.
We should provide context for our statements, so that His message is delivered clearly and without confusion. When we tell others that Jesus is coming soon, we should provide further explanation in regards to His “sudden” return. We should stop frantically checking our calendars and worrying about when He will come back. Instead, we should be comforted in knowing that it will happen swiftly when He is ready.
All of this may seem trivial at first, but consider the impact speaking out of context in regards to Jesus’ return could have on non-believers. If we tell non-believers that Jesus is returning soon without any explanation, they could easily interpret that to mean that we believe Jesus will return within the next few years. And if Jesus does not return in a few years, that non-believer could easily question our beliefs, and rightfully so. Would you want to follow a faith that teaches something that doesn’t happen according to what you have been told?
Believe and be ready
There are five important truths that we can know and share about Jesus’ return…
- Jesus will return (Hebrews 9:28)
- There is hope in His return (Titus 2:3)
- Be ready for it (Matthew 24:44)
- It will happen suddenly (Matthew 24:27)
- We do not know when it will happen (Matthew 24:42)
Let’s end the speculation of when Christ will return and begin focusing on being obedient to Him. We should focus our attention on doing the good work that He has prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). There is so much that He can accomplish through us if we focus on the work He has for us, instead of spending our lives trying to predict the timing of His return so that we can get credit for being correct in regards to “Biblical Prophecy”. And let us always remember, that He will return in His perfect timing.
Controversy and tension
Over the last several months tension and strife have become the norm for our nation. A new President has been elected. Protests (both violent and non-violent) have seemingly become the main focus of the news and society as a whole. Social media has become an environment of anger and hate in many instances. In general, there are a lot of people choosing to be heard over choosing being kind.
It would be easy for us as Christians to simply ignore all of the problems in our nation by withdrawing from social media and turning away from any controversial discussions. However, I am reminded of what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16
Kindness and truth
As we learn from that same sermon, a city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Removing ourselves from controversial discussions may at times seem like the right thing to do. And there may be times when that could be true. Although, if we look at Jesus’ life we will see countless examples of Him speaking the truth in love when controversial discussions took place. For example, consider His encounter with the woman caught in adultery and the Pharisees who sought “justice”. Instead of ignoring the Pharisees when they mentioned what the law said in regards to the woman’s sin, he answered them brilliantly by saying, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
Jesus wasn’t rude in his response, but neither did he ignore the controversial discussion. He spoke in truth and love in the midst of controversy. He simply reminded everyone in that group that they all had sin in common. While it may seem easier to remove ourselves from a controversial discussion, it may be perfectly appropriate to respond in truth and kindness. After all, our light shines brightest when we let it out for the whole world to see… “Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.” Matthew 5:15
That time Jesus banned swords
Sword violence was rampant while Jesus lived on the earth. Fortunately for those who lived during that time, Jesus issued a decree and banned swords from certain areas of the nations. Thankfully, sword violence decreased dramatically once Jesus established a law that permanently removed swords from those particular areas. Potential criminals agreed to no longer carry swords in those areas and the people were safe.
Does that story sound accurate? It shouldn’t, because it isn’t true. Yet it is the same type of fantasy land that some Christians live in today. Our nation experienced another tragedy last week and some Christians believe that the way to fix the issue is by making it more difficult for people to own firearms. They believe in so called “common sense” gun laws and proclaim that… “those who live by the sword, die by the sword”.
Why didn’t Jesus ban swords or create sword free zones when He walked the earth? He certainly had the authority to. That would have brought peace to the earth, right? No, but the answer is quite simple. Jesus knows where violence comes from. Violence is rooted in sin. Our sinful desires are what cause us to fight, steal, and murder. “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God.” James 4:1-2
Weapons aren’t the problem
Sword free zones wouldn’t have solved anything, because mankind is rebellious to God. Mankind has experienced murder from almost the very beginning. Cain killed Abel with what some scholars believe was a rock (Genesis 4:8). David killed Goliath with a sling and a stone (1 Samuel 17:49). Members of the Sanhedrin stoned Stephen to death (Acts 7:59-60). Things haven’t changed much throughout history. Sinful mankind will use just about any tool they can get their hands on to murder.
Jesus knows that weapons are not the cause for murder. Jesus knows that murder comes from the sin in our hearts. And Jesus knows that banning weapons does not change hearts. Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” Matthew 15:19
Die by the sword
Jesus never told his disciples to get rid of their swords. In fact, Jesus told his disciples to purchase a sword (Luke 22:36). Jesus did say the following words… “Put your sword back in its place, Jesus said to him, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” Matthew 26:52
However, those words must be taken in context. Jesus was speaking directly to Peter after he cut off the ear of a servant of the high priest. Jesus was telling Peter that he would die if he didn’t sheath his sword. It was not a blanket statement in regards to owning or carrying weapons.
Instead of advocating against firearms, we should be praying for the victims of the tragedy in Orlando, along with their families. We should be seeking Jesus and asking that our hearts would be right with Him. We should confess our sins to Him and repent. We should be praying that He heals our land. “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
Conspiracy theorists are crazy
Mel Gibson starred in the 1997 movie “Conspiracy Theory“, and portrayed a seemingly crazy man (Jerry Fletcher), who believed in a variety of conspiracy theories. It turns out that he was correct about at least one of the conspiracy theories he believed in, as Dr. Jonas (Patrick Stewart) actually attempted to keep conspiratorial secrets hidden by drugging and abusing him.
We should admit the fact that conspiracy theorists are crazy, right? And since they are crazy, it is perfectly acceptable to condemn them and look down upon them, right? After all, the Bible doesn’t speak to conspiracy theories or even mention the word conspiracy. The majority of people don’t seem to believe in conspiracy theories, so why should we? Why should we believe in conspiracy theories, when the government, Hollywood, and mainstream media generally reject such crazy ideas?
After all, conspiracy theories such as MKUltra are absurd, right? As Lee Corso (ESPN, College Game Day) would say, “not so fast, my friend”. It turns out that MKUltra was proven to be a very real mind-control test that was authorized by the CIA in 1953. Test subjects were given mind altering drugs, such as LSD, while having the impression they were assisting in medical research. The MKUltra conspiracy theory was found to be a conspiracy fact in the 1970’s.
Jesus is arrested
It is interesting how often Christians use the phrase “don’t judge people”, yet when someone mentions a conspiracy theory, many Christians harshly criticize and reject the conspiracy theorist. Many times we judge others simply because their ideas don’t conform to our preconceived notions of truth. Yet, how do we know that our preconceived notions of truth are correct? Have we really researched everything we believe to be true?
The word conspiracy is found in the Bible. While different words (schemed, consulted, plotted) are used in place of conspiracy in some translations, they all have essentially the same definition. In fact, the most important conspiracy of all time is recorded in the book of Matthew. “Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him.” Matthew 26:3-4
Jesus was the victim of a great conspiracy. The chief priests and elders conspired against Jesus by having Him arrested and killed. Of course, Judas played a role in the conspiracy against Jesus as well. All this to say, that if you believe God’s word to be true, you also believe in at least one conspiracy theory that is now known as conspiracy fact. Interestingly enough, the disciples seemed to believe Jesus when He foretold of this conspiracy. “…”Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?””
Conspiracies do exist
A conspiracy is defined as “a secret plan made by two or more people to do something that is harmful or illegal”. Therefore, a conspiracy theory is simply a belief of a plan between two or more people to cause harm. These days there are too many conspiracy theories to even begin to keep track of. And the truth is that there are some conspiracy theories that are factual and some that are fiction. It is as simple as that. Since not all conspiracy theories are fiction, we should at least be open to hearing about them.
Don’t be fooled into believing that all conspiracy theories are true, either. There are some conspiracy theories that are far from the truth. We shouldn’t believe everything we read or hear (1 John 4:1). However, we should be willing to follow the truth wherever it leads us. Whether we are watching t.v., listening to the radio, reading the newspaper, searching the internet, or talking to friends, we should be cautious in what we believe. Pray to the Lord for direction in the things you should believe to be true and research multiple sources before arriving at a conclusion. “The simple believes everything, but the prudent gives thought to his steps.” Proverbs 14:15
At the same time, don’t be too quick to dismiss someone’s thoughts just because they are different then your own. Maybe you will learn something from someone else, if you take the time to listen to what they have to say. “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger;” James 1:19 Most importantly, if you don’t know what to believe, take it to the Lord. He will guide you to the truth!
Jesus doesn’t endorse Socialism
Socialism is not a new idea. As a political movement, socialism began during the Industrial Revolution. However, it has been a thought in the minds of men and women for much longer. There are those who say that even Jesus taught us the principles of Socialism. Although, it goes without saying that many people have a misunderstanding of what socialism is and what Jesus teaches in regards to money.
Socialist apologists explain that the greatest benefit of Socialism is that it creates equality and it provides prosperity for all. Socialism is “a way of organizing a society in which major industries are owned and controlled by the government rather than by individual people and companies” (Merriam-Webster). The key ingredient in Socialism is government control.
Jesus’ teachings on money are not an endorsement of socialism. Socialism is government enforcement of the redistribution of wealth. Jesus clearly teaches us to make a choice to give what He has first given us, void of government intervention. “Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” ~ Matthew 19:21
Pay your taxes
Jesus commands us to pay our taxes (Matthew 22:21). Paying our taxes involves an act of obedience to Him. It is tempting to view taxation as an us versus them mentality. However, this command from Jesus applies to both citizens and government officials. “Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.” Romans 13:7
Jesus commands all of us to “give what you owe them”, so it is applicable to the tax payer and the tax collector (e.g. Matthew). Jesus does not condone government abuse of collecting taxes. Biblically speaking, taxes are used to collect money for the benefit of the nation, state, or city (Ezra 6:8). Taxation becomes theft when one individual’s money is taken from them and given to someone else.
That doesn’t mean we should stop paying our taxes when the government abuses their power with that money. Jesus did not give us conditions for paying our taxes. However, it does mean that the government officials who abuse their powers are accountable to God for their sins. Taxation for the purpose of legal plunder is not glorifying to Jesus. It is theft! And God’s word declares to everyone… “You shall not steal.” Exodus 20:15
Jesus desires generosity
God’s word makes it clear that Jesus is not a Socialist. To be fair, Jesus is not a Capitalist either. He is our king! Although free market Capitalism most closely resembles Jesus’ teachings in regards to money. Capitalism in its purest form allows individuals to make choices in regards to what they do with the money they have been blessed with. Skeptics of the free market claim that Capitalism is flawed because it leads people to greed. However, this is a flawed perspective. Greed abounds in any economic system (even Socialism), because we are sinful beings.
Socialism does not make us equal. In fact, it does almost the exact opposite. Socialism takes from some and gives to others. Eventually it leads to less production, since many individuals no longer desire to work once they no longer have to. In essence, Socialism promotes laziness. Socialism may be the radical idea of sharing, but not the kind of sharing that Jesus teaches. Jesus never commanded the government to force us to be generous. He commands individuals to be generous by giving to the poor out of love.