Monday, 22 September 2008

How long is soon?

In school today, I showed pupils a video in which a Pentecostal teenager explains what Pentecostal believe. Within the list of beliefs she said, "We believe Jesus is soon coming". After the video a pupil put up her hand and asked,
"How long have they been waiting for Jesus to come?"
"About 2,000 years", I said.
"I don't think he's coming!", he replied.
Another pupil put up his hand, "What is 'soon'? Surely 'soon' can't be 2,000 years?"
Finally, a third pupil raised her hand, "How can people believe things that are just not true?"

I thought it was an interesting interchange. The pupils had clearly cottoned on to the absurdity of a belief that Jesus will come soon, when 2,000 years of history appears to prove otherwise. Yet, Paul certainly appears to have believed that Jesus was soon coming. (1 Thess. 4:17) The way we change this to mean that he could come at any time in the future, is altering what Paul believed. How would you respond to these pupils? How do you understand the 2nd Coming after 2,000 years of failing to materialise? What relevance does it have to our lives?

1 comment:

DS said...

Man oh man - this is taboo Mark come on everybody knows that!! :-)

I wonder if the idea of the coming of the Kingdom is helpful on this one. A bit like John says in 1 John 'it has already dawned'. I shall be leafing through NT Wright's Surprised by Hope soon and maybe that will address it.

It does seem obvious that people expected 'soon' to be 'soon'. So I do feel a need to undstand those bits so they make sense now 2000 yrs later. I am ok that something appears in a different way than expected, the bible story as a whole should mean I am not surprised when that happens!

I think the ending being new heaven and new earth and things coming HERE is interesting to say the least re this stuff and also our role in that rather than just bunkering down to wait for the mothership!