Christ will return with sword in mouth, revealing the crookedness of the world’s systems, cutting through deception and pride. Christ’s words will pierce hearts and expose our sins—the ways we abuse our power and exploit others—and give us vision for a new world, opening our eyes to revolutionary possibilities. Christ will broaden our imagination for how to love humanity and all creation, and unveil the closeness of heaven.
Christ will not only speak. Christ will act, officiating the good news. Christ will not just demand justice, but enact it. Christ will usher in this new world fully, both the day of judgment and the year of jubilee. Christ will build this new world out of the ashes of the old, but must first set fire to the old.
We remember Jesus’ words, “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!”
There will be a number secure in their darkness, unwilling to yield to the movement of Love. Christ will restrain them, even tear them off their thrones. Institutions built on the exploitation of the proletariat will be destroyed. Fascism, cisheteropatriarchy, white supremacy, ableism, will be smashed.
I believe in Christ’s return. That great and terrible day has urged me forward since I came to faith. I’ve prayed hours upon hours for the nearing of this day. Over the years, how I’ve articulated my faith has changed quite a bit, but this longing remains. I want to see the glory of God’s justice flood this earth. Tyrants torn down. The oppressed lifted up. Those pushed out and silenced, centered and amplified. God’s transformative judgment offers mercy and forgiveness, but to the repentant, to those willing to change, surrender, and to commit to making right their wrongs. To the unrepentant, justice demands more. I want to see the furious love of God on full display. I want to meet Jesus, face to face.
Jesus caused spectacles, with healing and miraculous power, but these manifestations only pointed to and carried this gospel: another world, a different order, where things will be made right. It’s close—within us and among us. Jesus took in disciples, a small band of committed friends, and trained them in this logic of the kin-dom, and sent them out to do the same miracles and preach the same gospel. And their following grew, and more were sent out to do the same. And then, Jesus began speaking directly to power, denying Caesar’s authority, and then occupying the temple, effectively shutting down traffic and forcefully expelling all the merchants. Soon after, he was arrested and crucified.
It’s been 2,000 years since Jesus walked this earth, and still we are waiting, and I cannot wait any longer for that day to sovereignly arrive. None of us can. And we don’t have to—we never had to.
At Pentecost, we witnessed the Spirit poured out on all flesh. Through this act, we see the radical implications of the Incarnation. God’s Spirit was not bound to temples but lived in all God’s children. God’s presence and kin-dom dwell within us. Jesus assured us that this Spirit is all the authority that is needed to continue his ministry, even after he died. Jesus promised us that in faith, in this Spirit, we would do greater things than him.
Christ’s ministry is bigger than his 33 years on earth. The mantle of Christ is offered to those who band together in solidarity, in that same liberatory love that drove Jesus to the cross. The kin-dom manifests in that space of committed, comradely love. When we relieve each other of the burdens of capitalism and organize together to build up power from the people, we become the Body of Christ.
As Jesus waged war against empire and all oppressive forces, so shall we. As Jesus gathered friends to devotion to one another, so shall we. And also like Jesus, we will be persecuted, considered a threat. This is faithfulness.
To be a militant disciple is to participate in the return of Christ.
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves,and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.”