Immanent, Soon and a specific time – When will the Second Coming happen?

When I was 15, I had the first of two cornea grafts (the second on the other eye was when I was 18).  This was due to a condition called keratoconus. So, whenever I visit the optician, they don’t just check my vision, they are also looking out for how the graft is doing. Stats on medical websites suggest that in 95% of cases, a graft will last at least ten years.[1] However, there is no guarantee that they will last for my life time, I’ve seen suggestions that grafts can be expected to last between 15-20 years (I’ve also seen suggestions that the grafts could hold for the duration of most of my life).[2]

I guess that on that basis you could say that the possibility of me needing further eye surgery is imminent. That doesn’t mean it’s something that will necessarily  happen next week or next year or that I have any sense of timescales. After all, I’m well past the initial ten years and even the 15-20 years mark.  I’m very grateful for the skill of the consultants and surgeons who diagnosed and treated my condition, the cornea donors and most of all to the Lord who has granted me a reasonable quality of vision for a good number of years. However, I live with the possibility that my circumstances could change at any point. I am alert and ready for that possibility but I also get on with normal life.

Talking with Jose, our Nueva Vida congregation leader, he commented that death is similarly imminent for all.  We do not know when we will die but we do know that it could happen quite suddenly. For many people that is a frightening prospect but for believers in Jesus, whilst death brings pain and grief, there is great hope as we look forward to eternity with Christ.

I found it helpful to consider these examples when reflecting a little more on what it means to say that Jesus’ second coming is “immanent.” It does not mean that we have time-scales. The sense of Scripture is that every day since Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension has been part of “The Last Days.” What it does mean is that his return could be at any moment and we are meant to live in a state of readiness. This is why we are both ready for the long haul and so constantly churches are thinking about the long-term impact of decisions today.  We should be considering how what we do now might have a positive or negative impact on the next generation. At the same time. we live and work as though time is short. If Christ were to return today, what would he find?

[1] http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/corneatransplant/Pages/Introduction.aspx

[2] On a side note, you will also notice that the nhs website mentions the need and the challenge of finding cornea donors. I suppose it wouldn’t be unreasonable to include a little appeal here for people to consider organ donation not just for corneas but more generally.

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