When I was a kid, I hated sermons about Jesus coming. I grew up in a church where people loved to talk about Jesus coming, but it didn’t give me any peace. Even as an adult, I got a creepy feeling whenever the subject came up and it’s taken me years to figure out why.
I was scared of Jesus coming because–
1. Jesus Didn’t Always Seem Like a Friend
I wasn’t convinced Jesus could be trusted. I imagined Jesus was the nice guy who saves me from the Father, but then again He seems to be pretty tight with the Father. If the main focus of Jesus coming is to judge me, then He didn’t seemed like any friend of mine. I grew up with critical, judgmental parents and because they were the ones who threatened me with Jesus coming, I figured Jesus had the same attitude. Maybe that was because–
2. People Used His Coming to Manipulate Me
Whenever I was unhappy with my living situation or our constantly moving lifestyle (we moved over 40 times in 20 years), they would say, “Look at the headlines. Jesus is coming soon and we have to get our lives in order. It could happen anytime. We need to get all sin out of our lives.” As a young teenager, I shuddered at the thought of Jesus coming back to condemn me forever. Maybe that was because–
3. The Coming of Jesus Was Linked With Judgment
I was taught that God’s judgment is arbitrary and punitive. I imagined Jesus was like the adults I knew who if I didn’t do what they wanted either belted me or ignored me. The concept of Jesus coming back with unconditional love couldn’t enter my mind because I didn’t know what unconditional love looked like. And the judgment seemed like an extension of their critical spirit. Maybe that was because–
4. I was Worried About Standing Without an Intercessor
This always terrified me. I knew I was a sinner and had no chance without Jesus. But this whole scene is based on the misunderstanding that Jesus and the Father are NOT one. In one scenario I needed Jesus to beg the Father to protect me, so how would I live without His protection? Maybe that is because–
5. Being Ready For Jesus to Come Usually Ruined Relationships
We often lived in isolation because we judged those who lived in “apostasy.” This separated us from community (you can’t play with those kids, you can’t go to school, we can’t go to that church anymore because that pastor is no good.) They said I didn’t need an education because Jesus was going to come before I grew up. Relatives were deemed too lukewarm so we barely knew most of our family. No high school, no friends, no community just isolation and threats to get rid of sin before the big event. We lived as though we were between heaven and earth with nowhere to belong.
When I complained about being scared, I was told it was because my heart wasn’t ready (which usually meant I wasn’t doing what others wanted me to do.) With fear, manipulation and judgment all riding on this one event, you can imagine why I cringed whenever we sang, “Lift up the Trumpet and loud let it ring, Jesus is coming again!” It felt we were like announcing, “Here comes Jesus and He’s gonna make you pay.” Who wants to sing about that?
In the last few years I have discovered Jesus is trustworthy. I’ve also learned the theology of my youth was not always the best interpretation of the Bible. I’m not scared of Jesus anymore, but just in case anyone else has been terrorized by arbitrary theological views, here are five reasons why we don’t have to be afraid–
1. Jesus is Coming Back as Our Friend
Do you worry when your friends come to visit? Me neither. Jesus is an amazing person–not only is He God, but He has decided to call us friends (John 15:15). Friends don’t come over to judge and terrorize, they come to hang out. Jesus is coming so we can hang out with Him for all eternity (John 14:4).
2. Jesus is Nicer Than Most Christians Make Him Out to Be
If God wanted to use His power to force us to behave, He could have done that before Eden, during Eden or after Eden. God could have wiped out the entire human race, but He didn’t. He is patient and not wanting any to perish (2 Peter 3:9).
3. God’s Judgment is NOT Vindictive or Arbitrary
Jesus says the Father leaves all the judging to Him–
The Father judges no one,
but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.
Jesus says He did not come to judge–
As for the person who hears my words
but does not keep them,
I do not judge him.
For I did not come to judge the world,
but to save it.
So who determines the judgment? We do–by how we judge God’s trustworthiness and respond to His requests–
Respect God, and give glory to him,
because the hour of HIS judgment has come.
Do we judge God to be trustworthy? Do we choose to live like Jesus taught us? How we judge God determines how we relate to God’s law of other centered love–which is His design for a happier life. If we trust God and obey Him, Jesus will cure us and replace our hearts of stone with hearts of love for God and other people. The judgment is simply a diagnosis of our condition.
4. Jesus Will NEVER Leave Us
When Jesus says that He and the Father are one, He’s not lying. Together they are pleading with all of us to be reconciled back to their love. Love makes all the difference in the world. We don’t have to afraid to stand without an intercessor because God has promised to never leave us (Heb 13:5).
Jesus ever lives to intercede (Heb. 7:25). There will come a time when intercession is no longer necessary, not because Jesus would ever stop, but because the choices of everyone on earth will have been finalized.
Once we are sealed with the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1:13) we will finally be cured of this sin disease. Our cure will never come through conforming our external behavior because God’s healing goes much deeper than performance. Our character will be healed when we learn to love everyone with other-centered love. When we allow Jesus to transform our selfish hearts into loving ones, we will no longer have any desire to serve self. We will be safe for heaven when Jesus has turned our hearts of stone into hearts of love (Eze. 36:26).
5. Jesus is Coming to Fix Everything Broken–Especially Broken Relationships
Jesus is coming to reunite us with loved ones, make the earth like new and do away with everything harmful and toxic. He is excited to come and give us eternal life. Jesus says–
I am making everything new!
And then he said to me,
“Write this down, for what I tell you
is trustworthy and true.”
There is nothing we will miss when this earth is over because the new life Jesus has planned supersedes our imagination–
No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived what
God has prepared for those who love him.”
-1 Corinthians 2:9
If being ready for Jesus to come is based on fear, then we’ll never be ready. Jesus doesn’t want us to be scared into a relationship with Him. This whole universal war between heaven and earth is based on God showing us that He is trustworthy.
If you are still feeling a little scared about Jesus coming, you can talk to Him like you would a friend and listen to what He has to say in the Bible. Jesus is not only a Friend worth having– but He is a Friend we never have to be scared of–not now and certainly not when He comes to take us home to hang out with Him forever.
When we realize Jesus is our Friend,
When we realize Jesus really cares about us personally,
When we realize God’s judgment is not vindictive or arbitrary,
When we realize Jesus will never leave us,
When we realize Jesus is coming back to fix everything that was broken–
We are no longer afraid, we can look forward to Jesus coming with joy.
And we can say with friends of Jesus everywhere–
Come soon, Friend Jesus!