"Then Paul stood up, and motioning with his hand said, 'Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen...'" (Acts 13:16)

If Jesus Returned Today

by Stephen R. Bradd

What if Jesus returned to Earth today? In what spiritual condition would He find you? Would you be excited and ready for Him if He returned today? Friends, if the answer is no, then you need to make some changes--today!

Over six years ago, I presented this lesson to a group of teenagers at a summer camp. Many of those young people were Christians. Consequently, this lesson is geared toward younger people, though the truths expressed are certainly applicable for older folks too. It was the middle of June and I encouraged them to imagine that camp was over and they were back at home enjoying the rest of their summer vacation. Go ahead and use your imagination too!

Pretend that it is summer and you're sitting on the couch watching television. Suddenly, the doorbell rings. As you get up to answer it, you wonder who could be at the door. Is it a friend or neighbor? Is it a door-to-door salesman? Is it someone delivering a package? Who could it be? As you open the door, you can't believe your eyes! Is it really Him? No, it can't be, yet you are sure it is! Jesus Christ, the Son of the Most High God, is standing on your front porch!

Well, Stephen, what happens next? That's a good question. I suspect the answer might be a little bit different for all of us. Admittedly, Jesus will never literally come to your house to make a personal visit. The Bible indicates that when the Lord returns "every eye will see Him" (Rev. 1:7). There will be a general resurrection where both the righteous and wicked will be brought back to life (John 5:28,29). Then, the faithful will meet Him in the air and go home to eternal glory (I Thess. 4:17)!

Nevertheless, there is no harm done in pretending what it would be like if Jesus personally came to visit you at your home. Think on this theme as I read a relevant powerful poem.

If Jesus came, would you have to change your clothes before you let Him in?
Or hide some magazines, and put your Bible where they'd been?
Would you hide your worldly music and put some hymn books out?
Could you let Jesus walk right in, or would you rush about?
And I wonder, if the Savior spent a day or two with you,
Would you go right on doing, the things you always do?
Would you go right on saying, the things you always say?
Would life for you continue as it does from day to day?
Would you take Jesus with you everywhere you go?
Or would you maybe change your plans for just a day or so?
Would you be glad to have Him meet your closest friends?
Or would you hope they stay away until His visit ends?
Would you be glad to have Him stay forever on and on?
Or would you sigh with great relief when He at last was gone?
It might be interesting to know, the things that you would do,
If Jesus came in person, to spend some time with you.
-Author Unknown

Yes, it might be interesting to see what each of us would do if Jesus came in person for a visit. If He came to visit the young Christians while they were at camp, they probably wouldn't worry much because they would have their best foot forward, spiritually speaking. The same could be said for most Christians regarding Sundays. But, what about those other days of the week? What would Jesus find if He came on one of those days? This is definitely a matter that deserves our serious consideration.

There are several subjects mentioned in the poem that I want to comment on. Let's begin with:

What would Jesus think of the clothes you wear? Would you wear the same clothes in public that you typically wear if He was with you in person? God is pleased when we dress modestly. I Timothy 2:9,10 talks about the importance of modest apparel, propriety, and true godliness. But, what does it mean to dress modestly? In some ways, modesty is difficult to define, but the Bible gives us some principles to go by. If we are dressed modestly, our clothes won't be offensive or cause others to sin by lusting after our bodies. This is an issue that is a real problem in our world. Almost constantly, we see half-naked bodies of men and women on TV, in movies, and in magazines. We should try to keep our eyes from such as much as possible, but even so, if we're not exceedingly careful, we'll start to think that it is okay to dress like the world.

An important passage to consider on this subject is Luke 17:1,2 - "It is impossible that no offenses should come, but woe to him through whom they do come! It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones." Here Jesus condemns those who lead others into sin because of their actions. He mentions nothing specifically about clothing, but do you see the applicable principle? Friends, if we wear tight clothing or a revealing swimsuit or go about in public with no shirt on, do we really know what kind of thoughts are running through the minds of those who see us? If we wear things that cause others to lust after us, then they are sinning, but we are sinning too! I challenge you to think about the clothes you wear and make changes if necessary. Surely, it is better to please the Lord than to wear anything that might be indecent and lead another person to sin by lusting after us. If you have doubts about the appropriateness of a certain garment, don't wear it! And, ladies, please realize that men don't think about fashion the way you do. If you're showing much leg above your knees or part of your mid-section or even just a little cleavage, then take a man's word for it: you're showing too much! You are likely encouraging lustful thoughts. I have no doubt that often women wear garments they deem to be stylish without ever thinking of what the men will be thinking of when they see them. But, as followers of Christ, we have to think about what others might think. We must guard our influence carefully and go the second mile to avoid the possibility of leading someone astray.

There is certainly much more that could be said about modesty (and we will give the topic more attention in the future, Lord willing), but let's consider another aspect of the poem at this time.

What would Jesus think of your collection of music (or movies)? This is an area that I've struggled with, and I suspect I'm not alone. Although this may be shocking to some, I've always enjoyed the sound of electric guitars and hard-hitting drum beats. From my childhood, I've liked rock-n-roll music, though I certainly understand that many of the songs contain lyrics that aren't appropriate for Christians. This is true, of course, for those who love pop music and country music also. I believe that disciples of the Lord, however, need to take more care and consideration for what they purchase to listen to (or view, for that matter).

By the time I was 18 years old, I owned about 130 CDs. But, as I began to get more serious about Bible study and my walk with the Lord, I quickly realized that most of those CDs were not appropriate. They were not good for my mind and they needed to go. The Bible verse that pierced my heart on this subject more than any other was Philippians 4:8. In that passage, the apostle Paul wrote - "Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy--meditate on these things." Most of my music didn't meet the criteria. I know Jesus wouldn't have been happy if he saw my CD collection and all the money that I had spent which could have been used much more wisely. Today, I own a couple dozen CDs. The rest of my collection is in some landfill where it belongs--with other kinds of garbage. I challenge you to think about the music you own and listen to (as well as the movies you watch and buy), and get rid of those things that aren't appropriate for Christians! Why would we want to own music that is filled with thoughts of sexual immorality and profanity? There is nothing praiseworthy in this. The same could be said regarding movies. As followers of Christ, we are to be pure and innocent like children. If a song or movie isn't suitable for a child to listen to or watch, that might be a good indication that it is not suitable for us to watch! Think about it, and ask yourself: would Jesus be proud if He visited my home and saw my music collection (and movies)?

What kind of speech do you use when you're away from other Christians? I'm not really referring to profanities, because if you are trying to be faithful to the Lord, you already know that such is not proper. From time to time I hear some Christians, and even myself, saying things that are really not appropriate for children of God. Think carefully about your words before you speak them! If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Although that statement is not found in the Bible, the principle certainly is (Matt. 7:12).

Dear listeners, don't waste your time spreading rumors about others or talking inappropriately behind their back. Realize that every word we speak is important, at least in God's eyes. Jesus once said - "...for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment" (Matt. 12:36). That's kind of scary, isn't it? I challenge you to consider your words carefully anytime you open your mouth. Would Jesus be pleased if He came to visit and heard your every word?

How do you spend your time each day? Would you change your schedule if Jesus came to visit? I hope you wouldn't have to, but many of us would. Why? Well, I don't really think Jesus would be very interested in what we do with a lot of our free time. He probably wouldn't want to watch TV or a movie or surf the net or go shopping. Now, I'm not saying that these are wrong, in and of themselves, but when we allow anything to fill up our life so much that there is no room for spiritual things, then God is not pleased. Many Christians don't feel a need to crack open their Bibles unless they are in a church building! They claim they are too busy for Bible study. How sad! How often does your Bible get used? We should study our Bibles everyday. How else can we know what God expects of us? Surely, we'd all be more careful with how we spent our time if Jesus was with us personally. We'd look for more things to do to serve God. I challenge you to look at your life closely. Is it really busy? Probably. But, why is it busy? Are you filling your time with trivial things that won't matter one bit when you're dead, or are you using your time to the best of your ability as a servant of the Lord? Would Jesus be pleased with how you use your time if He came to visit?

There are several others issues we could talk about, but I think you get the point of the poem. If Jesus came to visit, it might be interesting to see how each of us would act.

Now listen carefully, I need to tell you something that you probably already know mentally, and because you already know it, you need to listen all the more carefully so this truth can really sink in: Jesus is always with us, even though He is not with us in a physical form! That's what He affirmed in Matthew 28:20 - "...I'm with you always, even to the end of the age." If that doesn't frighten you a little bit, I don't know what will! God is always with is. He knows our innermost thoughts and feelings. He knows every word we say. He knows what we wear and what we listen to. He knows how we spend our time. God knows it all!

So, what should that mean for us? Well, for me personally, I like to think of Jesus as walking around with me in person--an imaginary friend, you might say. Truly, He is here, but I can't see Him. When I think about Christ being with me every minute of the day, it's a lot easier to live as a Christian should live, even when I'm not in worship or with other Christians.

I know there are things we can all improve on in our lives. There are some things that you may need to change drastically in your life if you're really concerned about pleasing God. I challenge you to make changes, even if others don't understand! When I destroyed over 100 CDs, some of my friends probably thought I'd gone off the deep end. Well, to a certain degree they were right. I am crazy--crazy about the Lord! But, I needed to change some things to show it. I don't want anything to separate me from Him in this life or in the one to come. Because of this, I try to remove anything from my life that is even somewhat questionable or could damage my influence as a Christian. I challenge you to do the same. I'm not going to tell you that it is easy, because it's not. But, that is what God calls us to do; He calls us to be separate from the world. We must remember that we're not here to see how close we can get to the world without sinning. We're not here to see how little we can do for God and still get by. We should do all that we can for Him! Think on these things, and don't be afraid to make changes in your life for the Lord. He is worth it, and you'll be glad you did in the next life! Jesus is always with you, even at this very moment. Don't ever forget that!

Thank you for listening, and may the Lord bless you as you strive to do His will.