June 8, 2016 • Life for Leaders
He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
In Revelation 22:20, Jesus says, “Yes, I am coming soon.” In response, we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus.” But is that all we do? If Jesus is coming soon, should this truth shape our lives beyond adding a prayer to our repertoire? How should we live in light of the coming of Christ?
Scripture, from the first pages to the last, teaches us that the Lord cares about everything we do in this world.
I can think of a couple of ways we should not live. First of all, we should not live in fear. You may have seen the bumper sticker that reads, “Jesus is coming, and boy is he angry.” (Actually, the sticker uses a more crass word than “angry.”) It is true that when Jesus comes, God will be judge human injustice. If we are perpetrating injustice or participating in unjust systems – and which of us isn’t, to some extent? – the coming of Christ will involve significant disruption. But, if we have received God’s grace through Christ, we do not have to live in fear. Rather, we can live in confident expectation of the life of the future, a life in which God’s justice orders all things on earth and in heaven.
Second, we should not live as if what we do in this world makes no difference. A few years ago, an influential Christian pastor said at a conference, “I know who made the environment and he’s coming back and going to burn it all up. So yes, I drive an SUV.” Leaving the question of SUV driving aside, this pastor affirmed what many Christians believe, namely, that our actions in this life really don’t matter, unless they are directly related to getting people saved. So, evangelism counts, but running a company ordered by God’s justice does not count.
Yet, as we have seen in our devotional study of Revelation 21-22, the God who made the earth very good is not going to incinerate it. Rather, there will be a new heaven and new earth. In the holy city of the future, the “glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it” (Rev 21:26). This suggests that what humans do in this life will matter in God’s future, even if we’re not sure about the details.
Moreover, in Revelation 22:12 Jesus says, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” If we have been good stewards of the gifts and resources entrusted to us, we will be rewarded by the One who did the entrusting.
When we consider the kinds of deeds that matter to God, we mustn’t forget the very first instructions God gave to human beings: “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over [the animals]” (Gen 1:28). We should remember that God put the man in the Garden of Eden “to work it and take care of it” (Gen 2:15). The woman was created to be his partner in this work. So, it surely follows that Christ will pay attention to the work we have done in this life as he considers our eternal reward.
Scripture, from the first pages to the last, teaches us that the Lord cares about everything we do in this world. In ways that we do not completely understand, what we produce in this age will matter in the age to come. Moreover, we will be rewarded by the Lord for the good work we have done. Thus, the coming of Christ encourages us to make our lives count in faithfulness to God’s commands and purposes.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
When you think of the future coming of Christ, how do you respond? How do you feel? What do you think?
Does the coming of Christ make any difference in the way you live today?
As you reflect upon the coming of Christ, can you think of any adjustments you should make in the way you are living?
Gracious God, there is so much we don’t understand about the future. You have given us enough to go on, but not many of the details. Nevertheless, we know that how we live in this life matters, not only what we believe, but also how we live each day. Help us, we pray, to honor you in all we do. In particular, may our daily work be a faithful response to your sovereignty and grace. Amen.
Explore online Bible commentary: The Meaning of Revelation for Our Work at the Theology of Work Project.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.