As the centuries pass, it seems to get harder and harder to be expectant in our waiting for Jesus’ return. For the church in Thessalonica, it was easier. For them, it wasn’t 2000 years since Jesus promised His return; it was not a generation past. They, and I believe Paul himself, believed Jesus would return literally any day. In fact, they believed this so strongly that many of them had quit their work and spent their days on a hillside watching the clouds for Jesus’ return. When He didn’t return that day, they went to a relative’s home, mooched their food and bed and then returned the next day to wait again. After a while, this began to ruin the reputation of the church. This lead Paul to his teaching, “you should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”
But how do we continue our waiting with any urgency when after 2000 years we’ve seen no sign of Jesus’ return? I truly have not met anyone in my lifetime who lives with the urgency that Paul commands. And this is not a shortcoming, or a sin, of God’s people today – it is just a result of a long wait.
But I imagine how much easier it would be to get the church moving in areas like evangelism and mission if we could truly know that Jesus was returning in the next week. Imagine if you knew you had 5 days before Jesus came back, 5 days to tell your non-Christian friends and family members about the grace of God and the power of His salvation.
Without a finish line, urgency wanes. Maranatha – “come, Lord Jesus.”