Beyond confessions of faith, hymns and sermons, the Second Coming of Christ remains virtually irrelevant to daily life. We pursue our educations, work at our careers, raise our families, worry about retirement and prepare for the inevitable: death and taxes. The lives of believers and non-believers show little marked difference beyond church attendance.
But what if He comes today? What if He comes tomorrow? What if He came yesterday? No, I am not suggesting you missed the “rapture.” But, He did, in fact, come yesterday and He will, in fact, come today. Before you dismiss this as crazy, let me explain.
This is exactly what Jesus taught His disciples before His ascension into Heaven. Jesus said when He returns, “the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ … ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ (Matthew 25:31-46)
Jesus comes to us everyday if we are looking for Him. He comes in small, imperceptible and unexpected ways. He comes in the interruptions that beg for our attention and threaten to derail our pre-planned agendas.
Yesterday He came to me in the person of a young Hispanic employee at Wal-Mart who needed words of encouragement. A couple of weeks ago He came in the form of two brothers in their sixties who stopped to help me work on my 1977 VW bug when it quit running. A month ago He came in the form of a Chinese woman named Chiu who was fishing on a pier with her mentally handicapped daughter. Last year He came in the form of a teenage unwed mother who had given birth to a son who died a few days later. How many times I have missed Him and did not recognize Him? I don't know. He comes every day in many ways and forms that we are likely to miss if we are too focused on our own agendas. We might even miss Him by being too focused on our opinions about eschatology.
If we live our lives alert and ready to receive Him each and every day in the small encounters with the “least of these” we will be ready to receive Him in that day, when He appears like lightning from east to west. We might even hear Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”