Most of the great and often tragic misconceptions that have plagued Christianity through its long history have their roots in the attempt to force the Way of Christ back into the mold of the religion local to the time and place in which Jesus ministered, and from which all of his followers emerged with many of their native commitments still intact: thus the doctrines of hell, of the wrath of God requiring a sacrificial atonement, of the Manichean battle between darkness and light, and many others. Perhaps none of these misconceptions has led Christian hope and faith farther astray than that of Christ’s second coming, which was introduced into the Way almost from its inception as a means of salvaging the Hebrews’ Day of the Lord. Utterances of our Lord were wrenched out of context, parables were amended, and fantasies concocted (Revelation) to recast that established idea of a transitional period of upheaval and retribution, only now with Christ himself as both the warrior of destruction and also the dispenser of justice.

But on the cross, Jesus himself said of his earthly mission that it was concluded, and successfully so.

We are not waiting for Christ. He is waiting for us.

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