Imagine that you are driving down the street, and you see a marquee like this one in front of a local church. What do you think when you see it? How does it make you feel?
More importantly, how do you think this church wants their sign to make you feel? What message are they trying to convey?
Is it meant to make the passerby cheer? Or fear? Is it a threat? Or is it an encouragement?
Or is it an announcement that Jesus Christ will be their guest speaker in a few weeks?
Really, what is the aim here?
I always get the impression that signs like this are targeted at unbelievers and should be followed by a warning—“Jesus Christ is coming… Be afraid… Be very afraid.”
And whether that is what this church meant or not when they spelled out their sign, I don’t think any of us would deny that “Jesus is coming” is usually meant as a threat to scare sinners into thinking twice about their sin.
It’s not unlike the song Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Most songs about Santa are about this kind, jolly man who brings presents for boys and girls all over the world. But not this song. This song is about a creepy old dude who watches you when you are sleeping and knows if you are bad or good. You had better watch out… because Santa Claus is coming to town.
Is that what we have boiled the Gospel down to? When did “Jesus is coming!” become more of a threat than a blessing? When did the motivation for giving your life to God become not getting caught by Jesus?
“You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why, Jesus Christ is coming to town…”
This shouldn’t be. “Jesus Christ is coming!” is the heart of the Gospel. He lived, he died, he rose, he is coming back! The Good News isn’t good news without that last bit, because without his return we are stuck in a cycle of death and sin and violence until we consume ourselves. The earth groans for his return. We are taught to pray for his return. “Come quickly, Lord Jesus.” Come quickly because we are falling apart here.
Yes, Christ’s return is bad news for those who are living for themselves, because Jesus comes to conquer sin and put an end to all injustice. But his return is good news for the whole world, and right now I don’t think our world knows why they should see this as good news.
So let’s flesh it out—why is it good news that Jesus is coming?
When Jesus gets here, the dead will be raised.
When Jesus gets here, creation will be redeemed.
When Jesus gets here, there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. He will wipe away every tear from our eyes.
When Jesus gets here, there will be no more lies told. There will be no more lives taken by war. There will be no more guilty consciences. There will be no more abuse of children, no more trafficking of humans, no more homelessness.
When Jesus gets here, nothing about this current broken world will stay the same. As it says in Revelation 21:4, “The old order of things has passed away.”
I don’t know about you guys, but I like the sound of that. Those are the reasons why I am excited that Jesus is coming, and he can’t get here soon enough.
The world at large may not believe in Jesus or choose to follow him, but within his promise to return we have the answer to every problem our world would like to solve. Someone should let them know. We shouldn’t ignore the consequences for those who aren’t prepared for Christ’s return. But don’t you think that more might prepare if they knew they had something worth preparing for?
We can’t give up on telling the world that Jesus is coming. Let’s just make sure the good news really is good news. Let’s share with our own corners of the world the hope—and not just the threat—of Christ’s return.