Don't get me wrong. He's coming back. And those of us who are expecting Him will know exactly who He is when He gets here. But He isn't coming back as who and what most of us expect.
People, followers of Jesus, and secular folks alike, have an image of Jesus in their head that others have painted for them. What I mean by that is, whenever someone hears the word, "Jesus" an image pops into their consciousness.
Some see Him as a baby in a wooden feed trough. Others see Him as a wandering teacher or philosopher. Others see Him as an apostle or evangelist wandering the land, gathering followers and starting churches. Some see Him as a stereo-typical robed prophet of God. And still others see Him as an influential, charismatic preacher determined to establish and develop a new universal church of His followers.
Many see Him all bloody and tattered, fresh off of the whipping post. Others see Him still carrying His cross. Others see him still nailed to that cross. And there are even a few that see Him still wrapped in linen lying in that tomb. There are those that see that image of Jesus lifting up off the ground and going off somewhere far away.
More and more see Him as His fiery Spirit returning to enhance His followers. And lots of folks picture the image of some combination of the above, leading an angelic Calvary charge out of the clouds.
Oh, He is coming back. And He's coming sooner than you think. But He's not coming back as expected.
He's not coming back as the great Apostle. He's not coming back as an all knowing Prophet. He's not coming back as the most charismatic TV teacher or evangelist ever. And He's certainly not coming back as the Pope, or a lead pastor or any kind of a shepherd. In fact I don't think He's coming back as a preacher at all!
Jesus never came here and did all that He did, and said all that He said, to start a new religion. But from almost the moment He left the planet, men began to turn all that He did and said into the religion we now know as Christianity or Christianism.
Some of Jesus' primary objectives were to wrest back the Kingdom that Adam abdicated to Satan, re-establish its government, train leaders and call people out of every walk of life to be representatives of that government's assembly, or ecclesia, (which man has religiously rendered "church"), for the purpose of taking over and running the entire planet. That governmental representative assembly has now been twisted, neutered and reduced to what amounts to a weekend coffee klatch, with music, entertainment and a motivational speaker, presumably gathered in the memory of "Jesus."
When Jesus returns, I believe that He is coming back as a KING. I believe that He's coming back as a King, wondering, where the heck that Kingdom that He re-established is - and why it hasn't been developed. I think that He's coming back and is going to be looking for His governmental Assembly of representative Kingdom leaders, ready to step in and take over leadership of this planet. But, sadly, I believe that all He is going to find, is all of these separated, denominated, segregated, religion saturated, week-end get-together churches.
Where is His Kingdom? What is its territory? Where are its leaders? What are its resources? What is its influence on the world? What is its effect on legislation? What is its relevance today?
I know, some of you might be thinking that old Tim has finely gone off of his nut. And hey, I could be wrong. Jesus might be perfectly happy with the current fragmented, doctrinally separated, politically divided, racially segregated, ineffective, uninfluential and globally irrelevant "church" today. And maybe He'll line us all up and pat us all on the head and say, "Well done good and faithful servant" and then we'll all go have a big revival service together.
But if I'm right about this, I don't care what doctrines any of you believe about grace, mercy and forgiveness - I don't think any of us are going to have any problem whatsoever, dropping to our knees and asking for the same, when He gets back.
The good news is, that there's still time to begin making the transition. There's still time to change our focus from the church to the Kingdom. There's still time to train Kingdom leaders. There's still time to finish the work that Jesus began and left in our charge, 2000 years ago. There's still time.