By Pastor Michael Cofer
Christ the King Sunday
Text: Mark 13:24-37
What if today was your last day on earth – and you knew it! What would you do with that day? Would you spend the day binge watching Netflix? Shooting endless rounds on the golf course? Gambling away your last penny in Vegas? Telling off your boss?
You know, when we ask the question in this way, it tends to drive people to ask the question “What do I really want to be doing right now?” Or maybe, “What have I always wanted to do, but have been too afraid to do?” I like the urgency that those questions pose, but in the end, they are all about me and my wants. And that doesn’t sound very Christian to me…
The old adage “Live every day like it’s your last,” really breaks down if you take it seriously. Who’d ever pay their taxes? Or vacuum? Or do their homework?
But there is a kernel of truth buried in that flawed premise: today could be your last. In fact, if might just be everyone’s last because Jesus is coming back. And on this Christ the King Sunday – the last Sunday of the church year – we celebrate that very fact. The return of Jesus is closer today than it ever has been, and if tomorrow comes we’ll be even closer still.
And Jesus’ words to us in the Gospel reading today invite us to really think in these terms. “ Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” Today might be your last; live accordingly.
It’s funny to me that there is such a variety of opinions on when the “end times” start. Jesus listed off all kinds of “signs of the end” – in the moon and stars, among the nations and even within families and neighborhoods. I don’t even need to list them right now because Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”
That means that the conditions are already right. The signs are already there. We’re in the end times now and have been for 2,000 years. Don’t panic. But also… don’t fall asleep. Don’t waste the time you’ve got.
Instead of asking what you’d do if today was your last, let’s think about what we’d do if we expected Jesus to show up at any moment. If Jesus is coming back tomorrow, how would you spend the rest of today? When he returns, what do you want to be found doing?
See, if you remove Jesus from the question, then the “last day on earth” question comes down to what you would do if your actions had no consequences. And when you get down to it, a day without consequences is a meaningless day. But if we’re getting ready for Christ’s return tomorrow, then today has incredible consequences. Today wouldn’t be meaningless; it would be the most important day ever.
I tell you what, when he comes back I don’t want him to find me holding grudges. If today is the last day, then I’m going to do my best to be reconciled with everyone. Probably I’ll have to hand out way more apologies that I receive, but that’s okay. Glory awaits me when He returns, so I can bare a bit of humility and embarrassment.
And if Jesus comes back tomorrow, I’m going clean up my life today. I’m going to put away my vices. I’m going to fill my ears, mind, and heart with things that Jesus would be proud of.
I’d probably take some chances, too. Not silly things like gambling or skydiving… but I’d take chances for Him. I mean, if I know tomorrow is it, I’d probably tell some other folks. And sure, a lot of them might not believe me – most maybe. But those who know me well, and know that I love them – they might at least give it a moment’s thought. They might decide its worth getting ready “just in case.”
I probably wouldn’t waste much time buying stuff I don’t really need. These shoes have seen better days, but they’ll make it one more. There are newer, better phones – but this one is still working just fine.
I probably wouldn’t start any more fights. In fact, I’d probably let a lot of little stuff go – if I’m sure I’m in the right. After all, if Jesus is coming back, I’d like him to see me living at peace and making peace wherever I can.
I’d probably smile more. Sing more. Pray more. Give more. Love more. I’d make more time to be with people.
I’d cherish my family time. But I’d also cherish my water-cooler conversations. I’d cherish my waiter, grocery bagger, garbage man and telemarketer. I’d worry less. I’d fear less. I’d complain less. I’d focus on what God has done and is doing and is about to do.
Now I can’t tell you for sure that tomorrow is the day. In fact, Jesus says that nobody knows when: not the angels in heaven, not even Jesus Himself. Only God the Father knows… so if anyone claims to have “cracked the code,” you can be sure they haven’t. So, I’m not saying that tomorrow is the day. But I am saying that every passing day brings us one day closer – and tomorrow very possible will be the day. And if not tomorrow, then the day after is even more likely.
So let’s live today like tomorrow is it. Or better yet, let’s live like it’s today. Christ is coming.