Original Posting At http://precedinggrace.blogspot.com/2019/08/jesus-is-coming-look-busy.html
Lectionary Reading: Luke 12:32-40 (NRSV)
The difficulty of end times theology is that it creates an anxiety over the need for change. There is an expectation that with the return of Jesus there will be a system reset and this life will be over.
This may work for people who are suffering or facing a difficult future.
But for the average person, this may not be the case. When a loved one dies, we grieve at the loss of life even if we believe that the person went to heaven. We grieve our loss of time with them. We grieve the future that we had planned that will no longer be possible.
The sense of always being “ready”
may bring more anxiety than peace!
When we think about Jesus returning and disrupting our lives, there is some natural anxiety over the loss of our plans and dreams. Then there may be some guilt over the fact that we know that we are supposed to really be happy about Jesus returning!
So this passage for Sunday has some baggage attached to it if we are honest with ourselves.
I have come to believe that our ideas about the return of Jesus may not be as literal as we have interpreted them. If we are to interpret them literally, what does this do for the generations of Christians that preceded us? If the end times will occur in a moment in history (and preachers always seem to predict that it will not only be within our lifetime but very soon), then it means that the book of Revelation is only relevant for the particular generation in which these predictions will occur. Did all of the Christians who came before us waste their time in reading it?
I don’t think so.
So maybe we need to interpret this week’s reading differently.
What if the return of Jesus is more akin to how we treat the least of these as featured in Matthew 25? Certainly, we encounter the least of these unexpectedly. Most of us do not calendar encounters with the outsiders among us. Could these encounters be life-changing?
They can certainly be life-challenging.
They may also cause us to question the living of our lives as we know it.
As far as our peace of mind goes, I’m not sure this interpretation is any easier! In fact, if it is all about a more literal encounter with Jesus, then at least I’m off the hook if he doesn’t show! But maybe he’s been hanging around for longer than I’ve thought.
I look forward to being back from vacation and preaching on this passage this Sunday as we explore it together!
Photo by Olivier Deveault via Flickr.com. Used under the Creative Commons license.