At that time I will bring you in,
at the time when I gather you together;
for I will make you renowned and praised
among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes
before your eyes,” says the LORD. (Zeph 3:20)
Every year we set aside a Sunday morning (usually the second Sunday of October), to remind ourselves, and to celebrate, Christ’s promise that He will return. We (especially I), call it Parousia Sunday. Parousia means appearing, and it is the Greek word often used to describe the moment of Jesus’ return in the New Testament. He will appear, in strength, arrayed in power, alongside those who love Him. And this moment will mark–not the end–but the beginning of life as it was truly meant to be: full, holy, pure, and incorruptible, surrounded by the steadfast love of the Lord in glory. This is our hope. This is our future. Because this is Christ’s promise (Mt 24:30-31).
Meditating on our future helps us think clearly about the present. Every year families move into San Jose, become members, and knit themselves into the life of the church. At the same time, several families inevitably move away, taking a part of our hearts with them. And yet a day is coming when all of us will be brought near to God, and by implication near to one another. He will gather us “together” (Zeph 3:20), says the Word of the Lord. And when he does, those of us who have embraced looking foolish for Christ (1 Cor 3:18), will be made renowned and praised among the peoples of the earth. Those of you who sacrifice your goods and your time and your very selves for the sake of the gospel, will have your fortunes restored before your eyes (Mark 10:29-30). Focusing on the end reminds us that we never really lose anything when we surrender these things for Christ. We only exchange the respect of our coworkers for renown among the nations. We exchange earthly blessings now to see them restored a hundredfold at the parousia. All of your service, rendered unto God with a pure heart, will endure forever (Mt 10:42). This is our hope, because this is Christ’s promise.
If you would like some suggestions on how to prepare your hearts for the Parousia message this coming Sunday I would encourage you to read and discuss with someone the following passages of scripture:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:1-11
2 Corinthians 5:1-10
Here are some questions to consider:
- How do the apostles seem to expect us to use this information about the Lord’s return? Look carefully at the text.
- How do I use this information about the Lord’s return?
- How might thinking about these things cause me to engage my day differently?
I look forward to worshipping with you all this Sunday!
The Lord bless you,