By Russ Ramsey
When I was in high school, I remember staying up until 3:00 am to finish reading the latest Christian fiction book about the rapture. Stories about the end times were a fascination to me, and they continue to be for many people to this day. Why? Because we’re all at least a little curious about how this is going to end, aren’t we?
I am by no means an end-times theorist. I have two master’s degrees in theological studies and two decades of pastoral experience under my belt, and I am no more certain today about how the end times will unfold than I was back then. Maybe I’m even less sure now.
But here’s what I do know: Christ will return, and when He does, it will be a glorious occasion for all who believe in His name. Today’s passage makes that clear: “For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him” (1Thessalonians 5:9–10).
It can be so easy to reduce the Christian faith into little more than a moralistic way to behave, or a series of habits we form. We can forget that following Jesus is about the transforming relationship offered to us as disciples of Jesus Christ. As we follow Him, keeping in step with Him day by day, He makes us more and more like Him, reflecting His glory to the world through us. This is our call until the Day of the Lord, when He returns to rule and reign forever, establishing His kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven, and our place within it.
Like a thief in the night Jesus will return, unexpected and unannounced. For those who believe, it will be like a great light coming on. And when it does, we will feel at home in that light because for all the darkness this world has, “we do not belong to the night” (v.5). The darkness now present in the world will give way to the light of Christ.
I don’t know how much you think about end times stuff. Maybe not at all. Or maybe you have an entire bookshelf full of speculative fiction and eschatology. Either way, know this: We cannot know how or when Christ will return, but that isn’t really the good part anyway. The good part is the assurance that He will return, and that when He does, darkness will be overcome by the light of His power and glory forever. And this will be the reality we will know for all eternity.
That’s the good part.