(49) . . . he shall come to judge the quick and the dead

Men who have heard Jesus’ teaching often have serious doubts about whether a long-suffering life of love and truth will really win out in the end. So often it seems that the ruthless, deceitful, worldly powerful kind of man is the successful man. When Jesus comes out from his present hiddenness to judge the living (the quick) and the dead, it will settle the whole question about ultimate success directly and effectively. That day will see the greatest market crash of all time! The stock of all the goods and goals that most men chase after will go 0E the market when Christ is the only buyer. Some of the most “successful” will lose everything! But many who clung to Jesus faithfully throughout the long years, heartsick with waiting, will burst into rejoicing when they learn that their trust was not in vain. When the final assessment has been made, the only things that will be worth anything will be those that Christ values and that he had a hand in creating. My faith in Christ’s final coming and judgment is my refusal to surrender the future to any other lord but Jesus Christ. Christ’s values will be backed up by his God and Father, the ultimate power in the universe. I believe that God will break into history\on a worldwide scale to vindicate Christ’s way and decide human destinies.

Until he openly takes over this world, I’m responsible for doing what I can to heal and help the lives that the Lord lays before me. While I wait for his coming, the relief of men’s urgent distresses must not be kept waiting. I mustn’t be so rapt in looking for Christ coming on the clouds of heaven that I miss seeing him in “the least of these” who are in need around me. My ear must not be so set for the last trumpet that I don’t hear the man who is standing next to me. I must not hold myself aloof from the affairs of men and history, believing in advance that the world is doomed. I’m not the judge. Christ is. God has sent me to bring Christ’s word into the human problems of life, into men’s jobs and culture. I must stake Christ’s claim in all of life, for this world is the seed of the world to come.

I distrust any man who claims to know overmuch about the coming of Christ the Judge. The best minds were unable to describe the first coming of Christ in advance. How then can anyone spell out the manner of his second coming? The rich figurative words in which the Bible speaks of the last days may be interpreted in many profound ways. I must never insist that I have the only correct interpretation. Whatever I believe about these things must be flexible enough to allow for the freedom of God to do things, as he usually does them, in the most surprising ways. But I must never forget that the biblical pictures do point to some great forthcoming reality. While I don’t know in detail the way future history will go, I do know that Jesus Christ is the only future of the past and present. I do believe that Jesus Christ gives to all things their final value and meaning, and that between him and ourselves there will someday be a final evaluating meeting.