Image by deux-chi
Image by deux-chi

Reading: Luke 12:32-48

The simple message of this passage is this: be ready when Christ returns to usher in the kingdom of God.

When considered in the context of the early church, it becomes more complicated. Most of the New Testament writers expected Christ to return within their lifetime. They spoke in urgent and immediate terms about what they believed to be impending apocalyptic events. Nearly two thousand years later, it is clear that what they believed would take place never did.

Does this call into question the truth or relevancy of these early Christian writings? I don’t think so, though it does demonstrate the fallible human elements of our sacred scriptures.

I tend to think that what Jesus talked about as God’s kingdom has been emerging slowly over time. The “return of Christ” that the early Christians anticipated and that many subsequent Christians have waited for seems to me to be a metaphorical concept. As Easter people, we speak as if the risen Christ is present with us already, and I believe that to be true.

Rather than wanting us to wait for Christ to return in some apocalyptic endgame, God is, I believe, waiting for us to fully realize our calling as the body of Christ in the world. The simple message still holds: be ready. Even more, be attentive and alert, because God’s kingdom is already emerging around us.

Help me be ready, God, for what you are doing in the world. Amen.

This appeared as yesterday’s Fourth Church Daily Devotion.

John W. Vest

John is a "church hacker" attempting to overcome the limitations of church as we know it. To connect with him and learn more about his work, please visit

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  1. Jack (he told me I could call him that) Caputo talks about the church being Plan B in his book “What Would Jesus Deconstruct”. Pointing to the very same idea, that most of the Biblical authors expect Jesus to be back in their lifetime and the church was the result of them no longer waiting for that.

    He likens it to the TV show Lost, which I thought was brilliant.

    I also agree, we are not to be passive participants in the covenant with God but are to be ready to respond to the needs of the community, exhibiting the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth (one of the Great Ends of the Church…I’m doing a series)

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