Recently, a pastor and his small flock made the news by announcing the date of the second coming of Jesus Christ. They were so sure of the date that many of his followers gave away their possessions, quit their day jobs and “hunkered down” in anticipation of the Parousia – the second coming of the Lord.
I remember that Saturday coming and going, and time moving onward. I was not shocked when the coming of the Lord did not occur; but in the back of my mind, I thought – “What if that pastor and his small flock were right? Would I have been ready?”
Before I address that, let me say that I knew that the Parousia was not going to occur on that day, because Jesus himself said that “No one knows the date or the hour of my return – only the Father who is in heaven” (Mark 13.32).
It is a pretty safe bet that any prediction by any man or woman will be wrong. I remember thinking that 1988 would be a good year for Jesus to come back, because Israel became a nation in 1948 and Jesus said this generation will not pass before the Son of Man returns (Matthew 24.34). But 1988 came and 1988 went – and no Parousia!
Even though the pastor has now said that he miscalculated and has now set a new date – and even though many people have written him off as a fanatic – he and his flock achieved one aim: His prediction got people talking about the second coming. And it got many of us thinking about our own need to be prepared.
I love the Boy Scout motto: Be prepared! That should also be the motto for every Christian disciple. Jesus talked about our need to be prepared. Luke 12:35-40, is a warning about being prepared: “Be dressed for service and keep your lamps lit. Be like people waiting for their master to come home from a wedding celebration, who can immediately open the door for him when he arrives and knocks on the door.
"Happy are those servants whom the master finds waiting up when he arrives and knocks on the door. I assure you that when he arrives, he will dress himself to serve, seat them at table as honored guests and wait on them. Happy are those whom he finds alert, even if he comes at midnight or just before dawn.
"But know this: If the homeowner had known what time the thief was coming, he wouldn’t have allowed his home to be broken into. You also must be ready, because the son of man is coming at a time when you don’t expect him.”
I don’t like to be surprised or caught off-guard. It can be a humbling feeling when you are unprepared!
Biblically speaking, this is what we need to do to be prepared: The Bible says, “Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in him and he will bring it to pass” (Psalm 37.5).
Romans 6.23 says: “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
As important as receiving this free gift is by faith, it is equally important to live faithfully and to live well. We cannot receive God’s grace through faith and expect that our behavior, attitude, actions, words and deeds remain unchanged! Our actions should not negate our profession of faith!
Moreover, be involved in a church. Effective Christian living is closely related to active, vital participation in a local church. Hebrews 10.24-25 says: “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day approaching.”
The Psalmist David prayed: “Search me and try me, and see if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139.29).
Follow-through is critical. Be prepared!