When I was growing up, the notion that Christ would one day return was hardly something dear to me. I was convinced for most of my time growing up -- as I think lots of children raised in Christian households are -- that if Jesus returned, I would be excluded from the Kingdom for whatever reason.
But then I grew up and experienced the world, knew myself a little better, learned at some point to love God, and now I think about the return of Christ much differently. Now it is something I eagerly anticipate, rather than dread or fear.
I was watching the funeral service of Clementa Pinckney, the pastor who was killed in the shooting in South Carolina recently. The predominantly black congregation was singing It Is Well With My Soul and an elder prayed so fervently and passionately to the Holy Trinity for peace and for comfort in this difficult time. These people are eagerly anticipating the return of Christ because it will mean release from all their toils and suffering and injustices. One line from his prayer stuck out to me: . . . when we will have been called everything but children of God . . .
The return of Christ is dear to Christians, even though for unbelievers it will be dreadful and terrifying, because it means the end of suffering. Imagine if you knew someone who was immensely powerful and good, far beyond the goodness of anyone else, and you knew he could come visit at any moment. It would be something you look forward to. It means the end of senseless victimization of black people. It means the end of the decapitations and horrors in the Middle East.