Thursday, May 15, 2014

What's the big deal with Jesus coming back?

"After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."
1 Thessalonians 4:17

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I don't know if I was ever explicitly taught about what "the second coming" would be like, but I absorbed what Christian culture had to say about it.

Supposedly, Jesus was going to suddenly show up- and you wouldn't want him to catch you in the middle of a sin, so be good! (Or maybe you're afraid that he might come back just in time to ruin your honeymoon sex- darn!) (Wait, did you think that was a joke? A lot of Christian teenagers legitimately worry that God will end the world before they finally get the chance to have sex.)

Or maybe we assume that things will go down as they do in the Left Behind books: all the Christians will suddenly disappear in "the Rapture", and the UN will take over the world, with the Antichrist as the new world leader. Maybe you've heard little conspiracy theories spring up from time to time... A middle school is requiring its students to wear ID tags? CLEARLY THE MARK OF THE BEAST! THE END IS NEAR!

Oh yeah, and this is totally happening SOON. Like, in our lifetime. I mean seriously, look at all the violence in the Middle East. Signs of the times, people.

So all my life I've been reading the bible with these assumptions about how the world is supposedly going to end, in supposedly this manner. And I read things like "You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him" and I never bought it.

Like, why does it matter that Jesus is coming back?

I mean really, I don't care, and I never saw any reason we SHOULD care.

First of all, the bible was written back in the first century, and it said it would happen "soon." (I have some questions about whether this is actually referring to the end of the world.) If we read that now and go "oh my, it could be any minute now!" then what about the people who read it 1000 years ago? What about the original audience, 1900 years ago? If they read "soon" and thought the world would end "any minute now" and we're still kicking around today, then they were wrong. And so was every Christian throughout all of history who's been anticipating the end of the world. If it didn't happen in their lifetimes, then why would I think it would happen in mine?

I mean seriously. Everyone who's ever said "Jesus might come back before I finish this sentence" has finished that sentence. I don't buy it.

And also, even if I did care about being "ready" for Jesus' "second coming," what would I have to do? Like what do "be ready" and "keep watch" mean? No one's ever given me a good answer on this- just statements along the lines of "be good, don't mistreat other people, you wouldn't want Jesus to come back and find you doing that." Umm... aren't there a thousand OTHER reasons not to be mean to people? I'm pretty sure I shouldn't be doing that anyway. Actually, didn't Jesus generally promote loving each other, completely separate from when he talked about (what we assume, based on stories from Christian culture, to be) the end of the world?

Nope, I never bought that. I never saw any reason I should care about Jesus' supposed "soon" return. Because I'm sure it won't happen in my lifetime, and seriously, what would I do differently anyway? Haha, I remember reading Matthew 24 at church and being pretty open about the fact that I seriously don't care and I completely disagree with Jesus about the whole "be ready" thing.

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Yep. Whatever.

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