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A new year is here. I don’t know about your experiences, but New Year’s Eve parties have been a lot of fun in the Stevens household. One of the most memorable for me was the night we said goodbye to the 1900s. If you remember, there was a computer glitch that many feared would reset everything back to 1900. In our computer-driven society, a glitch like that could have meant that civilization would collapse when the clock struck midnight. With that in mind, a lot of folks were more than a little on edge that year. Nonetheless, we gathered with friends and family at my house and watched the clock tick down, half prepared to cheer and half-gearing up for a possible zombie apocalypse.
The most interesting thing in my memory of that night was the uncertainty of it. No one really knew what would happen before the sun rose, not to mention in the coming year. We all knew that no one really knew for sure that everything would be fine.
There was something so humbling about the uncertainty of the 2000s. Looking back, more momentous events happened in 1999 than in 2000 for the Stevens family, so the anxiety was all for naught. But for a moment, our inability to control or determine the future was so apparent. The reality is that we never know what any new year will hold for us. Events outside of your control and ability to predict will undoubtedly happen—some will be good and some may not.
But, with the passing of every year, we come one year closer to the physical return of Jesus to call His church home. Every day brings us 24 hours closer to His second coming. At The Bible Chapel, we believe in the doctrine of Imminence. That doctrine means that nothing has to happen before Jesus returns; it could happen at any moment.
With every change of season and every New Year’s celebration, we know the date of His coming is ever closer.
Regarding this confident expectation that believers have, 1 John 3:2-3 says, “Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.”
John’s point is simply this: as we fix our gaze with ever increasing eagerness on the return of Jesus it changes the way we live each day. Our focus on His return clarifies our purpose. Just a few verses earlier John encouraged believers to abide with Jesus, so that when Jesus appears we won’t shrink away from Him in shame for the way we lived. (See 1 John 2:28)
As you think back on the past year, which of those two situations describe you? Are you eagerly focused on His return, or are you struggling with feelings of regret and shame? Do your hopes have to do more with Jesus, or more to do with comfort or pleasure? Has your focus been on the moment Jesus parts the clouds and calls you home? Has your desire been to enjoy Him above all else as you walk with Him? As we look to a new year, take some time to re-focus your gaze on Jesus and His arrival. We know we are one year closer to His coming!