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Voices of Faith: How to explain Jesus saying he is coming soon

Voices of Faith offers perspectives from religion columnists. This week’s topic: How does one explain Jesus saying he is coming soon ... more than 2,000 years ago?

A glorious future

The Rev. Raymond Davis Jr., founder and emeritus, Greater Corinthian Church of the Christ: This question gives focus to a Christian teaching of the second coming of Christ.

Scripture has Jesus saying, “but of that day and hour no man knoweth; no, not the angels in heaven, but My Father only.”

Consider what he says (Matthew 24:42): “Watch therefore; for you know not what hour your Lord doth come . . . be ye also ready.”

Regarding this teaching, skepticism abounds. But scripture rebuffs skeptics, who are called scoffers; it is careful to keep believers’ faith in touch with God’s time.

“Be not ignorant of this one thing – one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise as some men count slackness.” (2 Peter 3:3-4; 9-10)

Jesus’ return is a declaration of a glorious future.

Longing to escape

The Rev. Holly McKissick, Peace Christian Church UCC: The scriptures often tell us more about what people wanted Jesus to say than what he actually said. This quote from the book of Revelation is a case in point. It was written down some 70 years after the time of Jesus. These “apocalyptic” scriptures – those that express hope that Jesus will return with a big bang, end the world as we know it and swoop up the faithful few – are not the heart of Jesus’ teachings.

The writer who recorded these words lived in a Christian community experiencing persecution; think the ancient equivalent of embassy bombings and hostage standoffs. Not to mention the daily grind of disease and hunger. Some longed for a savior who would come back and carry them to a safe haven, and soon.

They faced the same choice we face: Escape the world or get engaged and improve it. What Jesus needs is a Christian community committed to the heart of his teaching: bringing good news to the poor and liberty to the oppressed, creating a just, peaceful world for all.