What's Next for Home Missions?
FIRST GLIMPSE: Signs
They appear gradually in late May, popping from the landscape like ambitious wildflowers. By mid-June, they are everywhere, a patchwork of color blanketing the Tennessee hillsides.
Each proclaims the name of its political candidate and the position he or she is seeking in large, bold type. Some even make brash (and often untrue) claims: “The only choice for Tennessee” or “Leadership you can always trust.”
By Independence Day, the signs have become downright annoying, as candidates fill every nook and cranny of public space with corrugated plastic, jockeying for the best position from courthouse yard to fencerows, along the sides of state highways, and covering the windows of abandoned buildings.
Yet, as summer wears on, an amazing thing happens. The garish reminders of the coming election fade…or at least they seem to. The bright colors no longer draw attention, and gradually, the cluster of plastic simply disappears into the scenery. When the local news announces that early voting has begun, I am always startled. “What? An election? Already? How did I miss that?”
How indeed, with 10,000 signs scattered across my county?
I’m afraid the same is sometimes true regarding the return of Christ. After all, the biblical “signs” are certainly in place and have been for some time: wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6); famine, pestilence, and earthquakes (Matthew 24:7); Israel’s return to its homeland (Ezekiel 37:22-23); extreme wickedness (Matthew 24:12); and rampant delusion and false teaching (2 Thessalonians 2:11).
While we differ on specifics, Free Will Baptists all agree that the second coming is serious business as humanity faces judgment and eternity. Yet, as life wears on, sometimes the signs and seriousness of the Second Coming fade into the scenery of our lives, and somehow the final event in human history slips from our consciousness.
As we consider the Second Coming, we should take seriously three admonitions from the Apostle Paul in 2 Thessalonians 1:
The Second Coming will happen (verses 7-9). Let skeptics rant and doubters deny. Jesus is coming back. This truth is both comforting and concerning as we anticipate the moment we see the Savior yet dread it for a world filled with people who will face “vengeance on them that know not God, and obey not the gospel…who shall be punished with everlasting destruction” (verse 9).
Christ will come in glory (verses 9-10). No longer a suffering Savior, Christ will return as a reigning king. His return will mark the end of sin’s reign on earth and leave no doubt regarding His rightful place as Sovereign of the universe. He will act as righteous judge on all humanity, and His eternal kingdom will start.
We have a job to do (verses 11-12). Motivated by our concern for the unprepared, it is our job to proclaim openly the saving gospel. In short, as living “signs,” we must do our part to remind the world that He is coming back.
Eric K. Thomsen is managing editor of ONE Magazine. Contact him at email@example.com.