“Little children, it is the last hour. . .Now, little children, remain in relationship to Jesus, so that when he appears we can have confidence and not be ashamed in front of him when he comes. If you know that he is righteous, you know that every person who practices righteousness is born from him.” -1 John 2:18, 28
“It is the last hour.” As 21st century people it may be hard not to scoff a little at the naivete of the early Christians. They thought Jesus was coming back tomorrow, not tomorrow in a metaphorical sense, but literally tomorrow. They believed in Christ’s return for a final consummation of creation, as today’s Christians do, but with one major difference. They were living as though it could happen any minute. Keeping that urgency is pretty difficult to sustain over 2000 years. But we do know another kind of last hour that can compel us to the same passionate hope and intense faithfulness.
My long-time friends Lindsay and Jennie were faced with such a last hour. While they lived busy lives working, being married, and parenting their two daughters, a tumor was growing in Lindsay’s body. By the time it showed any symptoms, it was very large and all of a sudden, it was the last hour. He was dying. They had 2 months, perhaps, left together. Maybe you know such a last hour, a time when all that matters is right now because it is all you’ve got.
Most of the time I don’t live in that mindset. I usually think “I can do that tomorrow,” whether its exercise or calling my mother or reading Scripture. And usually I can. But the last hour does come. How would you live knowing that last hour is here?
Lindsay had always wanted to go to England. He and Jennie had dreamed about it for years. They wanted to worship at the cathedrals and take in a real soccer match. Family and friends rallied together to provide funds for the trip. Passports were expedited. Then, Lindsay’s doctor said no. Too risky medically. They prayed about it a lot, talked it over, and decided. They were going to keep living in the face of dying. So they jetted off to London! When they returned from their trip, Lindsay went into hospice care and died a few days later.
This is what Hope looks like. Hope says, it’s the last hour, and here is how we are going to live: we are going to keep doing the next right thing to be awake in life, the next right thing to trust in God, the next right thing to bring joy and peace, the next right thing to love each other. Hope says: We are going to England!
And do you see that the point wasn’t really whether or not they made the trip? The point was the posture they chose. Because when we see Jesus, whether it’s his return to us or our return to him, we want to confidently embrace him. We want to step right up and tell him boldly, “My hope has always been in you!”
Keep hoping and doing the next right thing, dear ones, in this hour and in the last one.