If Jesus returned today would you be ready? Would you be ready to live in a world where God was your only source of life? Where you could no longer get life/identity from other people, your accomplishments, your money, your looks, your relationships, your roles, your job, your house, your clothing, your knowledge, your superiority to someone else or any other thing at all?
Would you really be ready to live in a world where your only reaction could be love? Where whatever happened or whatever another person did, you couldn’t be resentful, jealous, seek your own way, hold a grudge, assert your rights or demand immediate change?
Would you be prepared to have your every problem solved by God’s comfort? Are you really prepared to come to God with a complaint, a hurt or a problem and instead of having the situation set right, have God say, “all is well. I love you and care for you. Be at peace” without actually changing anything for us?
If Jesus came back today, would you be ready to live at peace with all people? Would you be able to love, value and take joy in those who think differently than you? Whose desires and work is different than your own? Could you find joy in someone sees and experiences God in ways that you do not? Could you humble yourself to learn from them instead of opposing them? Could you love them even when you got nothing in return?
Could you live with only what God has provided and not what you want? If beauty and the fruit of God’s creation were all that were available and no thing which took from rather than added to that existed, could you be satisfied? If there was a lot of fruit but little meat? Water in abundance, but no artificially colored and flavored drinks? If you could know and be in contact with all people and places, but rarely, if ever, travel anywhere?
Could you take correction with joy rather than pain? Could you face being told you are wrong and instead of arguing, defending yourself, feeling bad or condemned, be excited at the new truth you have been shown?
Are you able to make God your greatest desire and ambition? Instead of dreaming of awards or degrees or success or a beautiful family, could you spend your days and nights dreaming of ways to draw closer to the King? Could you make all of your choices according to what would amplify love, peace, hope, faith and goodness rather than what would amplify wealth, status, comfort, ease and reputation?
Could you seek relationships for how they will sharpen, grow and change you – iron against iron, deep calling to deep – rather than how they affirm you, how they bring you comfort or ease, how they build you up? Could you persevere through the process with gladness over how you are being refined without resenting what it costs? Could you refrain from doing anything that brings harm to another person – no matter how different or far removed from you – and no matter what suffering you will endure as a result?
If you had children, could you understand that it is a sacred privilege and not a right? Could you see them as equals made vulnerable and trusting you rather than lesser humans with only the rights you deign to give them? Could you understand your work as preparing them to live bearing the image of God rather than as reflections of you? Could you allow them to be who God created them to be rather than pressuring them to be who you think you should be?
Revelation 21:4 says that when the new heaven and new earth are established, the old order will have passed away. And the truth is that for a lot of us, this would be a disaster. We are too attached to the old order. We are taking our life from, shaping our thinking in accordance with, dealing with other people and with God himself according to the old order. The old order has to do with power, prestige, rights, and comfort. It creates hierarchies. It has to do with reward and punishment. It protects us from having to change, put others first, let go of our rights. It privileges being correct over being good. It keeps us from suffering by providing all manner of alternatives to growing up, letting go of what isn’t God, changing and becoming wise. The old order is where most people – including Christians – are getting their life, their sense of well being, their identity and purpose.
When Christ returns, all of that will be swept away. All we will have is God alone. All we will be able to act out of is perfect love. For those few who have been on the narrow path of learning perfect love, this will be heaven. But most people will experience it as the lake of fire they must be refined in before they are able to enter into the Kingdom of God on earth.
So, in light of all that, allow me to ask you that classic question – if Jesus returned today, would you be ready?