In His post-Resurrection instructions to the disciples, Jesus left two legacies that have to be kept in perfect harmony: the expectation of His soon return and a world wide mission. Expectation conveys a sense of urgency. Mission presupposes time. Without the former, there would be no preparation for the Second Coming or motivation for mission. Without the latter, there would be fanaticism and idle contemplation. This explains, at least in part, what happened to the early church. Though pooling resources for the common good served the early believers well, it eventually became an impediment to the growth of the gospel.
Maintaining the proper tension between these two attitudes is key for the church's spiritual health. It is not yet time to withdraw from the world and wait for Jesus somewhere in the jungle or in the mountains because Jesus' intercessory prayer for the disciples is still valid today. We are in the world with a mission to fulfill.
Being ready for Jesus' return involves a daily investment in the advancement of God's kingdom, without pressure for results, greed for gain, or posturing for political advantage. Genuine growth comes from God, not from human methods or efforts. An enduring commitment to these sacred legacies will keep the church strong and vital as it actively waits for His return.
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