At church this morning, the pastor preached on Matthew 24:42. In the King James Version, this passage states: “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” The pastor noted, however, that the word often translated as “Watch” is translated differently in some versions. For example, the New Revised Standard Version has: “Keep awake therefore, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.”
The pastor was saying that watching or keeping awake is intended to be something positive. Jesus’ second coming, after all, is something that’s positive, in that it brings about forgiveness and renewal. When we watch, the pastor was saying, we’re like kids, eagerly anticipating Christmas and the presents that we will get.
I’m rather ambivalent when it comes to the topic of the Second Coming of Christ. On the one hand, I definitely realize that this world is in need of renewal—-and end to poverty, environmental devastation, war, natural disasters, exploitation of others, and the list goes on. On the other hand, I tend to recoil from certain tendencies that often accompany a belief in the Second Coming of Christ: belief that most people in the world are deceived and will suffer God’s wrath, discouragement of people from participating in politics on the basis of the idea that this world is bad and only Christ’s coming will solve problems, the spiritual stress the concept places on me to get my spiritual act together right now, etc.