The news these days makes it clear we need Jesus. We are looking for him to come and to save our world. When Jesus comes again, it will be to set things right once and for all.
Imagine, for a moment, a complex battle between a large group of people. Then, someone steps in who is able to sort things out. Part of what they must do is judge who has done and said what. One hopes that everyone will accept the judges’ decision so there can be peace. Anyone who dislikes the decision might describe the judge and the decision negatively. This is one illustration of how we might conceive of the judgement of God, which will renew the world with light, love, and life but could be experienced by some as wrath.
We believe that God has held Jesus back from returning. God cares deeply about the horrors we perpetrate upon ourselves and about our ongoing suffering. But when Jesus comes again, it will be as the judge of humanity, and God wants us to be ready to accept Jesus’ decisions. God waits out of patience, not wanting anyone to be lost.
Paul wrote about the coming day when Jesus would return to the church in Thessalonica, and we still have a copy of that letter today. Paul exhorted them to be ready. They knew that day was coming, and they knew Jesus would save them. If they were ready, that day would be joyful: they would get to be part of the crowd of Saints welcoming Jesus in his return. To be ready did not involve any mysterious secret knowledge about dates or events. Being ready just meant living good and loving lives of prayer. May the Holy Spirit help us to be ready.