- Read Philippians4:1-9 here.
In this week’s sermon I suggested that the sentence “The Lord is near.” provides the interpretive lens for the surrounding instructions. The return of Christ provides the reason for rejoicing. Paul draws his readers’ attention back to the big picture. Give up fighting (v2), don’t retaliate (be gentle – v5), don’t worry (v6) trust God (with prayer because the war’s won – v6), because the Lord is near.
While the quote, “The Lord is near.” could simply refer to God’s presence in the world, its close proximity to 3:20-21, which clearly discuss the return of Christ, makes it likely that Paul had the return of Christ in mind when he made this statement.
I was raised in a church that had a premillenial view of the end times. We studied Revelation several times (for months at a time) while I lived at home. Although I no longer agree with this understanding of Scripture I learned several things from these studies. One of the things I most appreciate about the premillenial teaching is the sense of urgency it gives to the mission of the church. Since coming in contact with churches of Christ 12 years ago I have noticed that the congregations I’ve been around talk very little about the return of Christ. The overwhelming attitude seems to be that “Christ will return one day and the earth will be destroyed one day, but I’m not going to worry about it too much.”
I don’t think it’s any coincidence that many of the fastest growing churches today are also premillenial. By pushing talk of the end times to the back burner it’s tempting (and we often give in) to take a relaxed approach toward personal evangelism and other mission efforts. Churches that emphasise that Christ might return today have a lot more interest spreading the Gospel as far and wide, and as quickly, as they can. We need to remember that it’s true, “Jesus might return for His followers today!” The Lord is near.
What’s your take?
- Have I only attended a strange bunch of churches that aren’t representative of all churches of Christ? or has this been your experience too?
- Do you agree that emphasising the nearness of Christ’s return might change our personal and congregational priorities? how?