What do you think of Jesus Christ’s return? Do you try not to think about it because you are young and want to live a full life? I get it. I thought the same when I was twelve years old.
I remember staring out of the picture window of our home as I listened to my mother tell me what she knew about Jesus Christ’s return. She was so excited about it, but I felt completely the opposite. All I heard was that the world I knew—the friends I had, the fun I was having, the house we lived in, our dog and cat, my family—all of it was coming to an end. That was the last thing I wanted to hear at that age!
Maybe you feel the same. You have so much to look forward to! And perhaps you feel guilty for thinking this way because others seem to be excited about the return of Christ—and you don’t.
Even though I resisted the concept, I allowed my mother to show me what the Bible said about Jesus’ return. I could plainly see that these were not her ideas; she was getting them from the Bible. (For example, consider this “short” list: Matthew 24:30; Mark 13:26; 14:62; Luke 21:27; Acts 1:11; Revelation 1:7). Seeing this for myself in the Bible, I realized that I had to accept it, no matter how hard it was for me to swallow. I still was not thrilled with the prospect that it could happen soon, while I was still young.
As I write this article, I now find myself in my mid-50s. In so many ways it is hard to believe how much time has passed since that incident at the picture window.
Even though Jesus will return, the reality is we simply do not know when it will be. He told His disciples, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority” (Acts 1:7). This point about the timing of His return is all-important.
When I was a teenager, I believed that time would not go on long enough for me to experience much of life. However, this year has been 30 years since my college graduation, my wife and I celebrated our 25th anniversary, and my children are now both older than I was when I stood at that picture window!
It is important to know that you could find yourself in the same situation. You may find yourself like me: looking back on events that you once thought there would not be enough time to experience. Although events in the world continue to indicate that His return is getting increasingly close, we don’t know with certainty when that will be. But consider: What if Jesus Christ were to return in the next five to fifteen years? Add that amount to whatever your age is now. For someone who is 15, that means being as old as 30! Even in such a scenario, it would be foolish to think that you have no future ahead of you—not just in the world to come, but in the world right now! How many wonderful events would still remain ahead of you?
Here are three lessons I have learned from my experience:
1) Plan to live a long life. Because of hearing that Jesus Christ is returning soon, there is the tendency to think, “What’s the use in planning for a long life?” Another attitude that many young people adopt is, “Well, if I only have a few years anyway, I’m going to do everything I want to do while I can.” This is dangerous thinking, and can lead people to make mistakes that they will live with for the rest of their lives.
Rather, plan your life as though you are going to live into old age. Do well in school, set goals and make plans to achieve them, decide on a career, keep yourself from worthless pursuits, and surround yourself with friends who are positive, going somewhere, and doing something with their lives.
2) Do not allow yourself to become cynical. Cynicism is an attitude of being distrustful, doubtful, skeptical and suspicious. Warnings about the return of Jesus Christ can become a topic at which many tend to scoff. The Bible warns about this attitude being prevalent in the end times: “…knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation’” (2 Peter 3:3–4).
Instead of being cynical, we should be thankful that we have more time to become the kind of people who are worthy of such a patient God: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (v. 9, NASB).
3) Look beyond your world. In many parts of the world, it is easy to be caught up in what you and your friends are doing and in the latest fashions, TV shows, and music. But be honest—watch any newscast and you will see that this world needs Jesus to return.
No matter how exciting and fun your life is, there are times when you experience sorrow and despair. How much of that heartache is caused by you or someone else not living by godly principles? It need not be that way. You can be grateful if you are reading this magazine that you have access to precious knowledge about how God’s Way is so wonderfully different! But the rest of the world needs that knowledge, too. And the time when most of the world will finally begin to learn how to truly live can only begin when Christ returns.
Yes, Jesus Christ will return—it is as sure as any prophecy in the Bible. And He may return in your lifetime. But instead of thinking that this is a bad thing, realize that it is going to be so much better for the billions who have lived empty and directionless lives. Thank God that you have an opportunity, as a person still in your youth, that others have never had—to learn about God and His Way of life. And no matter your age, you can support and back up the Work that is giving the message of hope to those people.
So go ahead and enjoy your youth. Make plans to live a long life and to build a successful future. Avoid falling into a cynical attitude that comes from not believing God’s word and His promises. Look beyond your world to see that this present society does need God’s kingdom to make a safe and prosperous world for everyone. Then you can truly look forward to Jesus Christ’s return—and you can pray “Your kingdom come” with your whole heart.