I find myself caught between seeing the Return of Christ as symbolic and seeing it as a literal historical occurrence. The ideas of time and history are so difficult to get our heads around. Time seems a human construct based on our awareness of mortality. Aging and progress seems like byproducts. I feel like our fear of the end of the world is analogous to the end of our personal lives. Lately there have been other ways to understand time in history -- that all that exists continues to exist and merely changes form. So when our bodies die we return to natural components. The normative way of thinking when we die is that we’re dead and nothing happens, that’s it. We cease to exist but we do exist just like everything else which nature transmutes into something else in nature. Historically, civilizations seem to die but they too are transmuted and blended into new ones. Is there an absolute end of anything? Does anything really end? These are a few of my thoughts about the end in general. I believe that everything that exists now will continue to exist forever.
As for the Return of Christ, Christ has come back and continues to come back as we experience time moving forward. The Anointed One seems to have had an existence before Jesus of Nazareth in the charismatic personalities of the Old Testament, the judges and the kings. Christ and the Logos have definite affinities. Christ and Lady Wisdom seem to be a species of one another. Within our own tradition Jesus of Nazareth is the fullest manifestation of the Christ of God. Even God in human form. Jesus of Nazareth, like all human beings, died, but his Spirit lives on and is transmuted into Christ the image of the living God. This manifestation took place in the Spirit especially in communities of belief who continue and extend his life. So Christ continues to exist in terms of memory but also in terms of the people who live like him. That’s what gives him a certain type of aliveness now. At least the one that we have access to. So he’s not dead in that sense.
My question is whether or not this Christ will become so palpable in human history that he will be as if he has returned in a concrete form. I would hope so. If this return is anything like a historical event, how will it be experienced? If anything, I believe the Return will be an intensification of something we already experience as we participate in Christ’s ongoing life now. Imagine if we all had clear immediate guidance from Christ about how to live and how to treat each other.
I imagine that when Christ returns in fullness there will be complete vulnerability and we will know each other, our motives and our spiritual states. We wouldn’t be scratching our heads wondering why each one of us thinks the way we do.
I imagine that the felt presence of Christ will be normative, accompaniment by him an assumption in our normal lives. Were Christ to return in fullness, the institutions and archies of the world would be conformed to his intentions for them. All of a sudden, education would be really education. It would draw out from ourselves what is true, what is real.
When Christ comes back there will be a judgment on the dysfunctional and sinful ways we live. Our sin would be exposed and justice would be the preparation for peace. So that peace that eventually will happen will only come after our total vulnerability to God and our total revelation to one another unto God. So the change doesn’t happen with a 'bang, we’re all changed'. The change happens as we’re all judged. And because we’re judged, we no longer have to deal with that. It’s out of the road. And then we are capable of taking on this new form.
Were the Return to happen suddenly I would think it would be a massive shock to all of us, a time of crisis and decision, a time of confession and a desire to wholeheartedly participate in the new world. The possibility of Christ’s return frightens and excites me at the same time. I’m frightened of it in one way because I will be utterly judged to the deepest of all my motives and yet I will be utterly freed from that because I’ll be forgiven. In the exposure I will be saved. If I can begin to see that now as I learn about my own sinfulness especially through other people, we’re living the Return.
I would like to study the Return and live my life in light of its lessons. I am especially hopeful that I move this idea out of my imagination and into the real. I often do imaginative stuff about the Return. I’d like to do a real understanding of the Return. I don’t have to use my imagination because there are pieces of my life where Christ has returned. And so I’d like to bring it deeper and deeper into the reality of that Return.