“For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” I Timothy 4:6-8. NIV These are some of the last words ever written by Paul. Soon afterward he was executed for failing to deny his allegiance to Jesus Christ.
Paul could see the end coming, but he was not anxious, afraid or frantic. Like Dietrich Bonhoeffer in 1945, right before he was hung by the Nazis, or the thousands of other Christian martyrs that followed Paul, he knew where he was going and he knew that in the twinkling of an eye he would be transformed from this life to eternal life.
Are we longing for His appearance also? Can you say that “I can’t wait for Him to back here and set things straight?” If you can then this will keep your thoughts, priorities and hopes properly in tune. We can’t live this life expecting for heaven and perfection to one day “evolve” on this earth —our best efforts or the finest politicians on earth will not make it happen. But we can choose to live our lives living as if we were citizens of heaven anyway——albeit as foreigners on a hostile planet.
Like everyone else, I am watching the political conventions, polling, speeches and the remarks by reporters and journalists rather carefully lately. It’s clear that we live in a very divided nation and world, and that none of our efforts have been able to eradicate racism, poverty, war, hatred, et al. Who are we trying to fool? At least since the Enlightenment, mankind has tried to bring about what was right and pure and fair, etc. But after two world wars, the inhumanity of communism and the decay of any moral standard all over the world, surely we can soberly admit that our best efforts have not brought heaven on earth—-perhaps the precise opposite has happened.
When He appears to the world in that cataclysmic event that heralds in a new heaven and new earth (he “eschaton”), the change we yearn for will come—-but not until then. As we wait for that time, He still comes, on a personal, on-one-on basis, to the men and women that seek Him. After that personal encounter, the longing and homesickness for what He has prepared for us follows.
Are you homesick yet?