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How do we get ready for Christís second coming?


For a long time people have been telling me that we need to be ready for Christís second coming. I know that, but how do we get ready for it?

Steve Answers:

When I was a teen some people emphasized one particular quotation when it came to being ready for Christ’s return—or that’s what it seemed like to me. The quotation goes like this: “When the character of Christ shall be perfectly reproduced in His people, then He will come to claim them as His own.”1

I felt like I had to be perfect so Jesus could come back to earth. According to that quote from a book called Christ’s Object Lessons, it seemed as though if I weren’t perfect, I wouldn’t “be ready” for His coming. When it became obvious that I wasn’t perfect, I felt frustrated and fearful.

If I’d actually read the whole chapter in Christ’s Object Lessons instead of just that quote, perhaps I would’ve noticed that the topic of the chapter was about the farmer who sowed seeds, and how the seeds fell in different types of soil.

Besides soil, seeds need water and sunlight in order to grow. In the same way, you and I don’t have everything we need to “be ready” for Jesus to return. Like the seed, we’re dependent on God to provide for our growth.

Maybe my adolescence was simply full of guilt, but it seemed like when people told me I needed to “get ready” for Christ’s second coming, the basic message I got out of it was that I wasn’t good enough, and I needed to try harder to be good.

According to the stories Jesus told, a number of people will be surprised when He returns. In Matthew 25:31-46 you can find one of those stories. Look it up!

According to Matthew 7:22, 23, “many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (NIV).2

Wow, doing lots of miracles and speaking up for God doesn’t seem to be enough. The clinching point seems to be knowing Jesus. John 17:3 indicates the same thing: “This is the way to have eternal life—by knowing you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth!” (TLB).3

Jesus also told the story about the wise and foolish builders (Matthew 7:24-27). Both kinds of builders heard what Jesus said. The difference was that the foolish builder heard what Jesus said but didn’t put it into practice, and the wise builder did. Evidently, listening isn’t enough for weathering the storm. We’re called to act on what God has told us.

You can also make some comparisons between the first coming and the second coming of Jesus. Many were looking for the Messiah when Jesus came the first time, but since He didn’t fit their profile, they rejected Him. But others caught on and recognized Him. Consider these contrasts at Christ’s birth:

• Wise Men from the East came to Jerusalem and found Jesus by following a star. Why didn’t the people in Jerusalem notice the same star right above them?

The Wise Men asked the chief priests and teachers of the law about the Messiah. These intelligent, informed people actually directed the Wise Men to Jesus, but they didn’t go to see Him themselves. Herod seemed to show more interest, but then he went berserk, killing all the babies of Bethlehem because he considered the birth of Christ to be significant (see Matthew 2:1-18).

• The innkeeper didn’t have a clue that Mary was about to give birth to the Messiah. Yet the low-class shepherds got the message from the angel choir, and they went to worship baby Jesus (see Luke 2:6-20).

• At baby Jesus’ dedication, the priest on duty was clueless that the baby he held was Jesus. But old man Simeon and old lady Anna caught on immediately (see Luke 2:22-38).

• Throughout His ministry, people caught on that Jesus was God. Yet some persistently refused to recognize Him. Even at His death, the chief priests and teachers of the law mocked Christ, asking Him to show them a miracle and suggesting they would believe in Him if He did. In contrast, at the cross a pagan Roman centurion identified Jesus as the Son of God (see Mark 15:39).

Are you picking up a pattern? Some people will be ready for Jesus to come, and some people won’t be ready. The difference seems to be their openness to God. The evidence of God’s reality is open to all. But those people who are highly regarded as “religious” sometimes are so proud that they fail to be open to God. Some want God to fit into their picture instead of being changed to fit into God’s picture.

There’s one other thing to consider when it comes to being “ready” for Jesus’ coming: don’t put off being ready. The call from God to you to be ready is always for today, not for tomorrow or some other time in the future.

Do you remember the story about the wise and foolish bridesmaids at the wedding (see Matthew 25:1-13)? The wise ones had plenty of oil, and the foolish ones had only a little bit of oil. Both fell asleep waiting for the bridegroom—Jesus—to arrive. Evidently tapping into Jesus now is vital for being able to be with Jesus when He comes.

So, if you want to be ready for Jesus’ second coming, make Jesus, and everything He’s about, what your life is about. When you do, you’re ready. And, you’ll be able to say the words spoken through Isaiah: “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the Lord; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation” (Isaiah 25:9).

1Ellen White, Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 69.
2Texts credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.
3Verses marked TLB are taken from The Living Bible, copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Ill. Used by permission.

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