Have you noticed how many Christians turn up their noses at certain discussions relating to the faith? For example, have you talked with believers who are happy to discuss certain moral issues with you, but consider a topic like eschatology, the study of the end times, to be not worth their while? Why do you think this happens?
Of course, we cannot be surprised that so many are disinterested in a discussion of end times things. Too many have been over-exposed to the Left Behind sort of teaching and have turned away from that book series’ claims. Too many have found that the bickering among believers about the timing of the rapture, the coming of a possible millennium, or the rise of the antichrist is just far too speculative and divisive to be any good for anybody. And, since the topic is hard, it should be ignored.
Of course, other believers are not over-exposed to one brand of eschatology. Instead, they have been abused by teachers who became so fascinated with a novel way of handling the end times that they forced their point of view into every teaching they gave. Thus, the Christians who were subjected to a regular attack of passionate proclamation about how the end times already took place or some other sort of system have no interest in ever being dragged down that road again.
But what do we lose when we lose the ability to study eschatology together? Is there a loss at all? Should we just ignore it altogether?
Consider what Paul writes to the Corinthian church about a particular hope that they have in Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:7-9 – 7 so that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Paul is hear giving God thanks for the Corinthians and expressing his confidence in the gifts that the Lord has given his church. Of course, the Corinthians were blessed with some spectacular spiritual gifts. But Paul’s focus actually goes further. The Corinthians are going to be sustained by their faithful God as they await the revealing of the Lord Jesus. They are actively, passionately, insistently waiting on the unveiling of Jesus.
What is that about? The unveiling or revealing of Jesus Christ is a reference to Jesus’ return. The hope of the Corinthians is not in their present position. Their hope is not in their miraculous spiritual gifting. No, their hope is in the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Their hope is in the return of Jesus. That is where they can place their hope for life in the presence of their faithful God.
What I fear, if we are not careful, is that we will give up the sustaining hope that the Corinthian church had if we let go of any conversations about the return of Christ. If we assume that this stuff all does not matter, I wonder how much hope we ignore. I don’t know about you, but I can’t afford to ignore any sort of sustaining Scriptural hope. I need it. And so I must take seriously the call to know the word of God, including what the word of God has revealed about the return of Jesus.
Now, I am not here to promote any system that you need to buy into. But what I would say is that you probably need to be careful turning your nose up at the topic of the return of Jesus just because some have overemphasized it or because you find it confusing or because some argue about it or because you are not good at it. God has promised us that Jesus will return. We should be fascinated by that. We should long to look into that topic as much as the Lord has revealed. We should be gracious with those who disagree with us on the order of future events or the literal or figurative understanding of a thousand year reign of Christ. But, friends, let us not hide from the topic. Why? The topic of the return of Christ is a source of sustaining hope for believers, and we need all the hope we can get.