Emmanuel Oset: I think this is a very good question because generally when talking about the coming of Christ, it is usually said in terms of us preparing to go and meet him, like just make sure that ‘you are not watching porn, you’re giving your tithe and you are doing the things you are meant to be doing’, so it looks like ‘be this holy person and then you will be with Christ’ but the bible actually presents, that as well as a fuller picture. The problem with that picture is that it’s not a full picture, it presents Christians as people who are just kind of ‘avoiding being touched by the world’ and then, they’ll go to be with Christ but what we see in the Bible is this whole life picture about how Christians are meant to live and engage their world until Christ comes and so 1 Thessalonians and 2 Thessalonians are very masterful in showing how very practical the doctrine of the return of crisis and the end times is. There, Paul said a number of things to those guys because they were afraid that Jesus Christ had come and wondered what their fate will be.
He says to them in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6, “be sanctified and avoid sexual immorality; learn to control your own body in a way that is honourable, not in passion and lost’. In verse 9, it says, ‘love one another, just as you have been taught by God’. He says in verse 11, ‘walk with your hands’, so in other words, be very diligent, be very conscious of what’s going on around you, in verse 12, he says, ‘so that your daily life can minister to those around you’
In 2 Thessalonians 3, it says, ‘we should not be idle’ but be people who are actually doing things in the time that we have been given, and so the picture is that we’re not just meant to retreat and withdraw from the world, we are meant to actually go into the world, bearing the life of Christ, doing things, being faithful in the places that God has committed to us while also fighting sin and battling sin in the world. We are not to just withdraw from the world but engage full-on with all the things that God has called us to do in this world and when Christ comes which is a time none of us will know, let him find us not as people who have withdrawn from the world but people who are continually occupying the world, engaging and serving him in all the places that he’s called us.
Yemi Osinubi: You took the word that was ringing in my mind, ‘occupy- occupy till I come’, keep doing the business of the master, it’s not so much a retreating so that we’re not ‘tainted by evil things’. Yes, you do want to abstain from evil, the bible asks us to abhor evil things, to keep away from things that would distort the gospel or that would taint us in terms of holiness and sanctification but the Lord actually wants us to focus on the primary goal now that we’re Christians, which is that we’re meant to reflect the character of Christ; we’re meant to grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
We’re supposed to experience his transformation, we’re supposed to experience his fatherhood, flourish on earth, use your talents and gifts, there’s so much to be done with all of who you are and all the gifts that God has deposited in you, and of course, that’s using your life and your talents to flourish under God but in there, there’s also the goal of making sure other people hear the gospel so you’re doing your own bit to ensure that many people are coming to hear of our great God, his great salvation and his plan to re-make this world where there’s suffering. We’re meant to serve the Lord in his vineyard, serving in the church or in whatever capacity you are, you’re meant to serve humanity in whatever capacity you can.
In fact, the whole point of holiness is that now that I’m retreating so that I’m not tainted but that I’m forging relationships and I’m representing Christ well, in my marriage, in my workplace and in everything that I do, I’m trying to see how God would have me engage, what would Jesus be doing and how will he be living in all these different circumstances. You would see in different portions of scripture that says something like, he who does this who perseveres till I come will get a crown of life’, the bible talks about all the joyful things we’ll experience when Christ comes and sees how we are living well for his sake.
Answered by Emmanuel Oset, leader at City Church and Yemi Osinubi, leader at City Church.