“But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:20, 21).
For over 2,000 years, Christians have believed in and faithfully waited for Christ’s return. But he has not arrived—-yet. Jesus said he would return to earth one day and make all things new (Revelation 21:5). Paul told the Philippians (and us) to wait eagerly with the assurance that he will come and transform us. But while we eagerly wait, how should we prepare for his return?
Waiting is hard, especially in the world we live in. We’re accustomed to instant everything. A contemporary prayer might include these words: “Lord give me patience and give it to me right now!” We are aware that centuries have elapsed and Jesus has not returned. That doesn’t mean he’ll never return. After all, he said he would. Scripture encourages us, “Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains” (James 5:7). It’s hard to wait, especially if it’s something you’re looking forward to. But the return of Christ will certainly be worth the wait. Pray for patience for yourself and others.
Through the years, Christians have said Jesus could return tomorrow. And that’s true. Some have attempted to interpret signs and have cited specific dates to no avail. In the parable of the 10 virgins (Matthew 25:1-13), some of the women were ready when the bridegroom came. Others were not, and they missed their opportunity. It behooves us to “keep our lamps trimmed,” like the wise virgins, so that we will be prepared to greet Jesus. And what about those who don’t know about Jesus? Like the foolish virgins, they will not be ready unless we tell them about him. He could come unexpectedly, like a thief (see 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4, also 2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 3:3, 16:15). Pray that we will be prepared when Christ, the Bridegroom, arrives.
Be an Example for Others
While we wait, we can live our lives following the example of Jesus. He taught that the greatest commandment is to love God and love others (Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12:28-34, Luke 10:25-28, John 13:34, 35). Using our God-given gifts to serve others will give us fulfillment as we wait for his arrival. Paul repeats that we are to wait eagerly in 1 Corinthians 1:7, 8. We can eagerly work within the church to win others to Christ so that Jesus will have more people to greet when he returns. We can be missionaries to other countries, or we can serve right where we are to witness for Christ. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching” (Hebrews 10:24, 25). Pray that we will model Jesus and be an example that others will want to follow.
It’s scary to read and hear about tribulation and persecution. But the Bible says these things will come before Jesus does. In Luke 21:26-36, Jesus said we will see signs in the heavens. The sun, moon, and stars will start acting crazy. He advised us to watch for the signs as the farmer watches the fig tree for evidence it will produce fruit. But think of all the times in the Bible God has said, “Do not fear.” He has given us the Holy Spirit, a comforter who is always with us to give us strength. And Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:1-3). Pray that we can banish fear from our daily lives and be fearless in the face of trials.
Be Heavenly Minded
Paul said our citizenship is in Heaven. Let’s take that to heart. Some people spend a lot of time trying to predict when Jesus will return. We hear experts warning us that current events are signs of the end times. But Jesus himself did not know when the end would come (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32). In addition, Paul warned us not to set our minds on earthly things (Philippians 3:19). He also said, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). Paul also recommended that we “clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ” in Romans 13:14. May we look past the concerns and troubles of this world and seek holy living regardless of what’s happening in our lives (1 Peter 1:16). Pray that we will not to be distracted by worldly cares.
Christians have been waiting for centuries. This does not mean that Jesus will not return in our lifetime. Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:8 that God does not measure time like we do. For him “a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” What about those who waited in vain, those who died without seeing the second coming? There’s still hope for them. Paul said the dead in Christ will rise first; then those still alive will be next (1 Thessalonians 4:16, 17). There’s hope for all Christians, living and dead. In 1 John 3:2, the apostle John says, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” What a blessed hope we have! Pray that we do not lose hope.
It’s worth waiting for. Whether we see the return of Christ in our lifetime or after death, we are assured that he will come someday. As we wait eagerly for Jesus to return, let’s be the best Christians we can be. Let’s eagerly study the Bible. Pray daily for wisdom and strength to deal with distractions. Minister eagerly to others while waiting for Christ to come and make us like him. Each of us has a role to play in preparing for Christ’s return. Let’s use our gifts to minister to others and to spread the gospel daily. As Paul said in Romans 12:12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Let our prayer be, “Come, Lord Jesus. Hosanna to the King!”
Emily M. Akin is a freelance writer and church musician living in Union City, Tennessee. The highlight of her week is the women’s Bible study group which uses The Lookout for a study resource.