In days gone by we probably heard a whole lot more "preaching" about the Second Coming of Christ. The reminders to "be ready" for his Second Coming were pretty much common place. Now, we seldom hear those words echoed from the pulpits. Do you ever stop to wonder why? I think it is because we are trying to create "seeker friendly" places where people can come into church assemblies and not be frightened by the "churchy" things we might say and do as Christians. Don't get me wrong on this matter, though, for I totally support creating an environment that is welcoming to the sinner and open to the seeker. I also strongly support an environment which preaches the entirety of the gospel message and the truth of the Word. Put both of those together and you have the "best" combination! If we are to consider the entirety of scripture, we must keep in mind there is this promise of Christ's return - the Second Coming as some might refer to it. The issue is not "when" this return might occur, but simply that we live well in anticipation of our deliverance from the limitations of this earthly body!
But don’t forget this one thing, dear friends: To the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like a day. The Lord is not being slow in doing what he promised—the way some people understand slowness. But God is being patient with you. He doesn’t want anyone to be lost. He wants everyone to change their ways and stop sinning. (2 Peter 3:8-9 ERV)
This is the message we shall consider this morning - not so much getting it settled in our minds that there is a Second Coming of Christ, but that if his "first coming" has been effective in our lives we will be ready regardless of when his Second Coming occurs! You see, it doesn't matter when Christ comes to establish the New Heavens and the New Earth - it matters that we are found ready to live on for eternity giving God the glory he rightfully deserves! When grace has had time to change our hearts, minds, and ultimately our soul, we begin to live for the glory of God - we live "ready" lives. So, why the delay in his Second Coming? If we look at what scripture provides, it is clearly that his grace may have the chance to touch the lives of many who obviously take their "dear sweet time" allowing that grace to impact their lives!
Don't get me wrong - I am not complaining about the delay. God's timing is perfect and I will not become frustrated in the waiting. In fact, I am ever so grateful he waited for me! I want us to see this delay as an actual means by which his grace may touch the lives of those we have been praying for over the years. The wait may seem long in our eyes, but in his timing it is like a split second has passed. To us the years of praying and agonizing over the loved ones who haven't experienced this grace yet seems almost unbearably long. To God, it is undeniably short! To him, that delay is the opportunity many require in order to experience this grace.
One other important aspect we see in God's delay in the Second Coming of Christ is this idea of us getting to the place of real "change" in our lives. At the moment we accept his grace, we are forever changed, but in our daily lives this change may not be totally evident. In fact, this delay actually grows our faith and the opportunity to "work out" change is what makes us lean into him a little more each day. I know I am powerless to change on my own - because change is hard work and I tire under the burden of change. The last time we went through a reorganization of duties at work, I almost wanted to throw in the towel and find something else to do. Why? Change is hard work! It takes a toll on us mentally, physically, and especially emotionally. God's delays in our lives may just be so we will realize the need for mental clarity, physical renewal, and emotional balance - something only his grace fully operationalized in our lives can produce.
You have probably heard the little acronym for GRACE: God's Riches At Christ's Expense. I can honestly say we don't understand the riches of God's grace until we experience the change grace brings into our mental, physical and emotional lives. We immediately experience the spiritual aspects of grace. We need the time to fully experience how his grace will transform, or re-create the way we think and process information, the stamina and fortitude to perform our daily work, and the life-altering freedom of being controlled by the unreasonableness of our wayward emotions. To this end, he gives us time with him - learning of him, learning from him, and learning to live in him. When this has been fully accomplished, grace has done its work! To this end, we experience a delay in our deliverance from this world. To this end, we enjoy the freedom to grow in Christ. To this end, we live out grace in the hopes another will see and experience the grace of God in theirs. Just sayin!