As a kid, I grew up in South Texas and went to an evangelical church. If I am being honest, my time there was actually quite pleasant. That is with one exception. It was something that constantly nagged at me, producing anxiety and fear. It was something that seemed to bring many around me comfort, but absolute dread to myself. What was it? The Second Coming of Christ. Little did I know there are three comings of Christ, and I didn’t need to fear any of them.
Fear of the Second Coming
I felt very alone in this place of fear and anxiety when folks would talk about the second coming. And to be honest, I didn’t dare ask. Everyone seemed to actually want the second coming to happen right now. But, as a person who loved, and still loves, the Bible, I was also aware of they all believed had to happen to get there. Death and destruction. To me the second coming meant that everyone was going to die violently in an apocalyptic world where genocide reigned supreme. This was not a world I wanted and it was absolutely shocking to see all these Christians begging for it in their prayers at church. I was terrified that God would answer their prayers and it would happen. This was August of 1992.
Fear to Joy of the Three Comings
As I sit here on the eve of almost 30 years since that fear was embedded, I must be honest it still resonates. Those pangs of fear well up within me when my studies lead me into Revelation or Ezekiel. But I have an amazing comfort now in two truths. The first is, that for the most part, scholars don’t really discuss the actual second coming of Christ. The second is that when Christ returns in person to this earth, He is bringing heaven with him, not destruction. These truths have moved me from a place of fear to a place of indescribable joy.
The True Second Coming
David Cole, or Brother Cassian, has done an amazing job in his book describing the true second coming in his book, Celtic Advent. He describes the second coming as a three-dimensional concept. Since the acceptance of Jesus as Lord, he has come into your heart, and continues to return their everyday. The second coming is a continual return of Christ anew every day. Every day we have a chance to live out our faith in our interactions with others. We are constantly loved, and that loved is renewed continually from Christ. The second coming is not a cause for fear, it is a cause for great joy. Simply knowing that Christ is all around and within us everyday is great joy. Simply put, the second coming is a beautiful and continual thing.
What about the Third Coming? Still Afraid?
Understanding the Third Coming outside of the lens of fear has been a very healthy part of the deconstruction and reconstruction of my faith relationship with Jesus. Revelation 21 describes the passing away of the old heaven and earth. But where I believed this was an apocalyptic nightmare, I now understand it as a passing away of the things we were not originally supposed to be subjected to. We are returning to an Eden state. The new heaven and earth will reset our relationship with God to where God will now physically dwell with us.
What dies here is not people, what dies here is pain, suffering, death, mourning and crying. Those are the only things truly meeting a violent end in the “second coming.” Like the first two comings of Christ, this last one is cause for great rejoicing and hope, not one of despair. Christ’s name should always invoke joy and love. If the name does anything else, it is not of Christ.
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