Last week, I mentioned that we can feel fine if in fact we are living in the end of the world. Here’s why.
Some people are fine because they are ready for the end of the world. They are prepared. We call them Preppers. The family in the picture above is an example. Look at all the stuff they have stockpiled. National Geographic has a TV show about this phenomenon, and it is amazing. If an apocalypse happens, these people think they will be ready. But is that how we can feel fine at the end of the world? Build a bunker and fill it with survival gear, food and water?
In Luke 17:20-37, Jesus teaches two important things about the coming of the Kingdom of God, First, the Kingdom has already come. It is among those who believe in and follow Jesus, becoming his disciples. Second, the Kingdom has not fully come, but one day it will, and we should be ready for that day. This idea that the Kingdom has come, but not in its fullness is often described as the “Already, Not Yet” view of the end of the world. The Kingdom of God has already come, but not yet fully. We live in the already. As Jesus said, “The Kingdom of God is among you.” But he will return, to usher his Kingdom fully in one day we know not when. But we can be ready.
We can be fine living in this already, not yet. We can be fine because we have him now and we can be ready for his return.
Accepting Jesus as our Savior and Lord is where readiness begins. What I’m talking about is becoming his disciple. It makes us think of the moment when he said to those first disciples “Follow me”, and they followed him. They didn’t know exactly who they were following or what they were getting themselves into. But they followed. Their relationship with him and the knowledge of who he was and what his Kingdom was all about would grow in time.
It’s a lot like marriage. Remember your wedding day? Remember how you were so in love with your spouse? When you said “I love you” that day, you meant it. But has your understanding of love grown since then? When you say “I love you” now, does it mean something deeper now?
For us it is the same. Readiness starts with making the decision to believe in him, follow him, and make his way of life our way of life, but understanding of who Jesus is and what his Kingdom is all about grows in time. This is how we live in the Already. Allowing him to have more and more leadership of our lives, allowing him to transform us so that we act more and more like him.
But there is also the Not Yet. One day he will return, as he said he would, and the principle he asked us to follow was to be ready for his return. We need to have that ongoing awareness in our minds that Jesus could come today. Allow that very real possibility to be the concept by which we evaluate our lives. Are we ready today? “Lord, am I ready to meet you, either by your coming which could be today, tomorrow, decades away, or not in my lifetime, in which case am I ready to meet you as a result of my own death?”
Make this a proactive part of your life. It is a habit that we can get into. Always ready.
I find this principle to be true when it comes to exercise. When I train for a long run like a half-marathon or a marathon, I gradually get my body ready to run those long distances. At the beginning of the training plan it seems impossible that I could get to the point where I can run 13 let alone 26 miles at one shot. But day by day following that plan, my body adapts, grows, strengthens, changes. And you get to the point where you can run 13 or 26 miles. You start off looking at the 18 week training plan which finishes with a really long run thinking, “No Way, I’ll never be able to do that.” But you can. Little by little following the training plan, your body changes and strengthens. When the big race comes, you are ready.
From that race day forward, if I wanted, I could maintain that readiness. Some people do that. They run long races every weekend or every other weekend. Once you’ve achieved readiness, it is easier to maintain it now that you are there.
But I have a confession. I have never maintained that readiness. After the long run is over, I am worn out from 18 weeks of training. I go back to short runs, so that when the next summer rolls around I have to start the training plan all over again.
So how can you maintain readiness for Jesus’ coming?
First, begin a relationship with Jesus by placing your faith in him. Second, go back to the basics of spiritual disciplines, such as the core ones of reading and studying your Bible to learn more about what God’s Kingdom is all about. Pray regularly for God to fill you with his Spirit and transform you. Third, be deeply committed to your local church family. We need each other. Look at the disciples in Acts; they formed a community that was deeply committed to one another. Fourth, we should all have people that we are regularly investing in spiritually, and we should all have people that are regularly investing in us spiritually.
Do you need to apply any of these four ideas to your life?