Anything caught you unawares? You know, just out of the blue a relative drops in insisting that they had let you know they were coming; or your assignment/project is requested when you thought the due date was still two weeks away? Perhaps it’s just that moment when your child learns that they can surprise you by hiding in a crevice and popping out with a massive “boo!” just as you are walking past with the precious vase…
Things can often catch us unawares. For those who follow Jesus, his return should not! It will come suddenly, but it shouldn’t surprise followers of Jesus.
Since the moment of his resurrection Christians have understood Jesus would return. Peter says about Jesus:
“Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.” (Acts 3:21)
The final stage in Gods big story, the restoration of all things, the day of the Lord, the return of Jesus, IS coming.
I want you to think about that last sentence for a moment. Do you believe it? Not just in your head. Not only intellectually. Not simply as a statement of fact. Do you believe its reality. Let me ask it another way… Does it affect how you live?
The passage from 1 Thessalonians this morning (v4-6) says:
But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.
The return of Jesus should find his people living quiet lives in sober expectation of his day (check out the rest of 1 Thess 5 for a surprisingly simple, good and peaceful life). Further, it should not find us living disruptive lives characterised by “darkness” and hence being surprised like the teenager whose parents return home in the middle of the wild party they were running.
I wonder how the older son in this mornings parable from Luke 15 would have changed in light of a sober expectation of Jesus return. More patience? Less stress? More selflessness? Greater trust in the Father? Greater appreciation for what he had?
Just as the father said to the son, “‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours”, so it is with us. As we wait for that day when we receive our inheritance as part of the restoration of all things, let’s wait with sober expectation.