The Savior will come again! He is bound to complete his work, and it is our task simply to be servants until his return, to be in the service of him who is coming. We are, as it were, to represent by our lives the coming of Jesus Christ. We must not, therefore, be so concerned and active, or make such tremendous efforts, as though we were able to achieve the victory of good on this earth. This, of course, we are quite incapable of doing. Only Jesus can bring it about, he who came a first time and is going to come again a second time.
If we are loyally and firmly set upon this – “He will come again” – then the gospel of the kingdom will become personal and living to us. The coming of Jesus Christ is not only something in the future but a present reality in those who wait for it in their hearts.
Never let go of the thought: he will come again! For this makes you into a servant. His earthly life is by no means lost forever – no, his life on earth is being continued, and by directing our whole heart and all our senses to it, by waiting for him and receiving, we may become servants of his life on earth.
Now the servant’s task does not consist in merely waiting and doing nothing. Rather it is a matter of practicing stewardship. Good stewardship means looking after those who are in our care. And if only our hearts and minds were big enough, I would say that all the people on earth are entrusted to our care (Gal. 6:9–10). The servants of Christ are to stretch out their hands to each other and to all people as they look toward the coming of the Savior.
Many people think that Christ’s second coming means a dreadful judgment, when unbelievers will be cast into hell and believers will be saved. No, when Jesus comes, he wants to find his servants prepared to receive him as a Savior, a helper who comes into the world not in order to judge and condemn, but rather to redeem and to make whole, because this is what God created him for.
Ever since Jesus’ first coming, the whole world is embraced by the love of God. No one is excluded, not even the atheists. They are all embraced by God’s love, and, through us, they are God’s household. Woe to us, therefore, if we start to judge, if we condemn, if we abandon all hope for this world for which Jesus Christ has come, for which he suffered and died, for which he rose again, and for which he will truly come again.
So you must be a diligent steward, not a lazy servant who simply waits. There is much to be done. All around you there are lives entrusted to your care, people with whom you have been led together. They are perhaps still very worldly: your own family, maybe, or perhaps your next door neighbor. We need to see even nations as “households of God” and love them as the Father in heaven loves them. Our goodwill and good wishes must go out to them, just as the Father in heaven does nothing but good to all people. “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt. 5:45).
Even if we have to wait for a long time, one day the doors will burst open. Hearts will be freed. And new peace and new joy will descend upon the earth.
I am frequently saddened to hear and see how so many Christians cannot bring themselves to wish good to all people as they wish it for themselves. How few are filled with God’s gift of forgiveness! Instead most set themselves apart by setting themselves above others. But if we are awaiting the Savior, then we are awaiting the forgiveness of the world’s sins, not just our own (1 John 2:2).
Unless the urge to forgive, to want the Savior for all people, wells up in our hearts, we are not true servants. For if we do not stand fully in the love of God and in his forgiveness, if the eyes with which we look out into the world are not good and kind, if we cease to hold on to the others in love, then God will no longer hold on to us either, and we will find ourselves with the unbelievers, regardless of whether we have spoken pious words or not (Matt. 6:14–15).
God is not interested in words but reality. And the reality of a Christian life consists in forgiveness and in wishing the whole world well, however grim it may look. Even if war or bloodshed comes, God is greater. He carries out his will. In the end, sin will cease. In the end, justice and truth and the love of God will come to us.
I cannot live for one single hour without thinking: Come, Lord Jesus! And if all of us together can come to thinking that thought – even when there is trouble in your home and in your heart – then we shall be as one, and it will be granted us to go on experiencing the powers of God as a witness to the One who is coming.
This article is an excerpt from Action in Waiting.
What are the things you’ll be doing in order to be a diligent steward rather than a lazy servant? Share your thoughts.