A small request: please pray for me, that I won’t be afraid of going to small groups next week. For a few days (not today) I have been consumed by anticipatory anxiety about going to small groups and church. I also had a cold, which made it easy for me to not go (because obviously I didn’t want to spread my germs). Of course, the main reason for not going was because I was inexplicably scared. And I don’t mean daunted scared. It was more irrational I will totally go crazy if I went kind of scared. And so it would be better for me not to go. But I need to obey Hebrews 10 and continue to gather with fellow Christians instead of trying to slip through the nets and try to go unnoticed. Please thank God for Sonja, a staff worker at the Crossing who is meeting me for lunch this Friday to catch up. I think she will understand my feelings a little as she herself has only been to the Crossing for a year.
I have actually stumbled across a rather interesting analogy for Christ’s return. And it is this: I returned to Singapore from London, sans quite a lot of my worldly belongings. I had to wait about… two and a half months before my boxes arrived on my doorstep. As I unpacked a few of my things – I could not help but feel really pleased that everything was intact, (security in material things.. I know), because now I have all my art things and my books and other things that are precious to me. But what had I done without these items in the meantime?
I felt that waiting for my boxes was a little little bit like waiting for Jesus to come back. I knew that the boxes would come, as I had packed them carefully, and done all the paperwork, and paid the bills and taped and double taped the boxes. I also knew that the shipping company was reliable (most of my friends used that company without complaint). In the same way, I know that Jesus is going to come back. Because he rose from the dead, just as he said, and did many other things, and many things happened, just as he said. And did not many people see him after he had risen? So I knew that my boxes were going to come.
But whilst I was waiting – I still needed some things to live on, clothes, some books and craft materials and things to occupy me, so it wasn’t like I lacked anything to live, just like the Bible tells us everything we need to know to live right now before Christ returns. But then I got unhappy and bored with what I had packed, and felt that it was not enough to keep me amused. Note: as material things go, this is actually OK because it’s not like I’m worshipping another god before Christ returns and all that, but I was sort of trying to live as if the boxes weren’t going to come. Sure, sometimes I did remember how inconvenient something was that I didn’t have this special material, or tool, or book. But half of the time I was trying to live without my boxes. Note: this is also OK because this is common sense IRL, and one can’t possibly go around whining about why your boxes haven’t arrived yet. They will come, so in the mean time sort something else out. But, this is only an analogy, and as analogies go, they can only go so far.
This made me see more clearly how I was actually trying to do the same without Christ. Life isn’t just inconvenient; it continues to be cursed and tainted with sin. Instead of waiting patiently for Jesus to come back, and doing the work I have been given, I do try to find other things to fulfill myself – despite the fact that I am already saved. I try to “redeem” myself in front of others, to make myself seem better than I am.. and so on. I am often living as if Christ isn’t coming back. Yes, sometimes a huge problem or global catastrophe or a sad event makes me really wish that Jesus was here, right NOW. But more often than not, I continue to live quite happily, forgetting that judgement is coming, and that I need to tell people about Jesus. From waiting for my boxes, I saw how easily put off I was, even for two months (which felt like forever I tell you). I started to worry, irrationally, that maybe they would never come. And following that, thinking: well, if they don’t, I’m ok because I don’t need those boxes. But imagine my huge joy when I opened each box and took out things, sketchbooks, pencils, little stuffed toys that reminded me of my friends.. How much greater will my joy be when Christ comes? I will truly be comforted and saved physically from all pain, sadness, and suffering. But above all, I will be saved from my own sin, and I will be really free to live without it.
Here is where the analogy falls apart. In a good way.
The awe and happiness and fulfilment Christians will have when Christ returns, will not just be a, “oh, I am so relieved that all my stuff is here and now life is more convenient because I have been wearing the same 5-7 t-shirts and same 2 pairs of jeans, but now I don’t have to.” (but yes, that is what has been happening, but that is not important!) It will be more, “Christ has come, and we are going to be with him, to share in his glory, and also, to actually understand what sharing in his glory and inheritance actually means. WHAT IT ACTUALLY MEANS YOU GUYS.” I don’t even think I can comprehend or imagine what that means! To see the world in a different way… to actually love without requiring cost, to serve without suffering, to not be tied down by worrying about money, to not have to worry about being tired, to not worry about ANYTHING, because we are complete in the Lord.
How amazing is that? The perfect society we all dream of, and know, deep down that we cannot have it now, because we are all inherently selfish, and really, sort of like hurting each other just to make ourselves feel better.
I hope that I will see my boxes and continue to anticipate Christ’s coming, not because he might, but because he really is.