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.