Recently, while perusing Facebook, I came across an article someone had posted about the Pope meeting with several political leaders around the world. Normally I do not spend a great deal of time on articles, but more so on the comments. The usual discussions were about this being another sign of Jesus soon return. But one comment caught my attention. This comment I found particularly troublesome. Troublesome for one reason because it was made by an SDA pastor. Here is the quote exactly as he posted it.
THE sign of the end in Matthew 24:14 is the preaching of the gospel to all nations. There are so many people groups in the world still to reach. That may take a while folks.
At first glance there is nothing wrong with this seemingly innocuous statement. But take a closer look. What is he really saying about the second coming of Jesus? Does he believe that Jesus may not come back so soon? Is that what we are preaching from the pulpits now? “Relax. Don’t view every event as another sign of Jesus’ coming.”
God, through Sister White, warns:
“There are in the world today many who close their eyes to the evidences that Christ has given to warn men of His coming. They seek to quiet all apprehension, while at the same time the signs of the end are rapidly fulfilling, and the world is hastening to the time when the Son of man shall be revealed in the clouds of heaven. Paul teaches that it is sinful to be indifferent to the signs which are to precede the second coming of Christ. Those guilty of this neglect he calls children of the night and of darkness. He encourages the vigilant and watchful with these words: "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober" (Acts of the Apostles p. 260).
When Jesus was speaking to the disciples in Matthew 24 it was in direct response to a request for the signs of His second coming. The parable of the fig tree in verse 32-33 illustrates the need to pay attention to the signs, “so when you see all these things know that it is near, even at the door.” Is not our message to be “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand?” I am aware the “bridegroom tarries” but we do not want to build a theology out of that fact! I think the figs are ripe!
Now my desire is not to beat up on my pastor friend. I know he loves Jesus, but it is telling of an attitude that is prevalent within the walls of our church. An attitude that says “I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing.”
We have been very blessed within the Seventh-day Adventist church. Our health message has produced long productive lives like that of Dr. Ellsworth Wareham, a cardiac surgeon in one of our California blue zones, who retired from full time surgery at the age of 95.
Globally, as of 2014, the SDA church operates 729 healthcare institutions, including hospitals, clinics, nursing care facilities, and orphanages and 7,792 primary, secondary, and tertiary educational institutions, second only to the Catholic church.
So it begs the questions: “Do we really want Jesus to come? Do we really want to go home?” Has life become so comfortable, so enjoyable, so free of earthy trial, that we really don’t want Jesus to come? Well at least not now. Not in my lifetime. Maybe down the road a decade or two (or three) after I have married, raised my children, seen my grandchildren graduate from high school, reached the pinnacle of my career, retired, lived out my retirement in a nice community, preferably on a beach somewhere, THEN Jesus can come.
Wow! There is a whole lot of “I” in that statement. Another word for it would be, dare I say, SELFISHNESS. It really is just pure selfishness. I don’t want Jesus to come because I, I, I, me, me, ME!!!!
But to a sensitive heart, any talk of delay or desire for delay in the second coming of Jesus feels like a lethal blow. Why is my heart so sensitive? Because I have experienced great loss. The loss of a child. The loss of my first born son at the age of 29. No warning, no time to say good bye. Just didn’t awaken one morning. Married with a 2 year old daughter. For my son, Jesus “came as a thief in the night.” No one can afford to be complacent: for the moment you die, is the moment “Jesus comes” for you.
Now my daughter-in-law waits. Waits to be reunited with her beloved husband. My granddaughter, now 4 ½, waits. Waits for a daddy I know she doesn’t remember, but visits “his park” on a regular basis and whom she talks about seeing again when Jesus comes. And me? I wait. I wait for that glorious moment when the angels present my son to wide open arms.
Don’t make those of us who have suffered great loss wait any longer. Don’t let another baby be aborted, another child be abused, another Christian be beheaded, or another little girl grow up without her daddy. To those who are comfortable, don’t let others bear the pain of your comfort. For those of us who have suffered great loss, we don’t want to be comfortable on this earth. Let’s not delay. Let’s get the work done and go home. I have a son I want to see.
Candace (Candy) Howells lives in Dayton, OH with her husband John, and they attend the Centerville SDA church.