The Late Great Planet Earth

I became a Christian during the Jesus Movement in America in 1970. The Jesus Movement was this “all over the USA” revival in which 10 to 12 million young people began to follow Jesus.

There wasn’t a singular leader of the Jesus Movement, but two leaders emerged through the 70’s. Larry Norman began contemporary Christian music with songs like “I Wish We’d All Been Ready.” The top selling non-fiction book in the 70’s was probably Hal Lindsey’s ‘The Late Great Planet Earth”.

A focus of the Jesus Movement was what we called “the soon return of Jesus”.

This sounds naïve today. The Jesus Movement came from a time of drugs, free love, violent protests, and a repudiation of what we called “the system”. Then Jesus began to appear – literally. Young people began to see Jesus – even more – there was a move of the Spirit.

The Jesus Freaks at the Jesus House (Hippie Christians in a commune) that I stayed at briefly in Florida, talked about miracles. We all agreed following Jesus was more exciting than taking LSD. Instead of escaping by tripping (getting high), we went to the beach to witness.

We all thought Jesus was coming back soon. This hope dictated the simplicity of our lifestyle and the fervency of our witness. We believed in a literal heaven, that Jesus would come back for his followers in an event called “the rapture”. The difference between life in heaven or hell was faith in Jesus.

Seems simplistic, almost naïve, when compared to the complexity of the last few months of Earth’s history.

In recent years, there has been a subtle shift away from end times teaching in churches. Significant teachers/pastors emphasize the power and blessing of Jesus today. Talking about the end times seems like a cudgel – almost cruel – in an age where the spirit of the age emphasizes the legitimacy of each person’s story.

Second Coming? Wow that’s judgmental.

Jesus didn’t come back in the 70’s because He wasn’t finished with the church yet. All of history, when we get to heaven, will be a story of God, Jesus, and the body of Christ, which is also called the Bride of Christ. I affirm that the justice and racial issues of today are a welcome purification of an often too-white church.

Let’s not be mistaken. Jesus is coming back.

There are 600 prophecies about the second coming of Jesus in the Bible – many/most/all have been fulfilled today. Our lives today must have the context of a loud trumpet, Jesus in the clouds, and the Day when every person will have their lives discerned before a totally Good and Great God.

Jesus didn’t come back in the 70’s. I’m glad He didn’t. I hope that Jesus comes back tomorrow. The decisions that I make today should consider this possibility.

I love reading 1 Thessalonians 4. The title of this chapter in the New International Version is “Living to Please God”.

Verse 1: We instructed you how to live in order to please God.

Verses 3 & 4: It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality. That each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable.

Verse 8: Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

Verse 13: Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.

Verse 16: The Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God.

Verse 18: Therefore, encourage one another with these words.

Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Tomorrow! If not, I will live as if You are.


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