I believe the characters of Max and Chloe in The Secret Life of Pets teach us something about our expectancy regarding Jesus’ return for His church. Lest you think I am crazy, let me explain.
The movie portrays Max, the dog, as eagerly longing for the return of Katie, his owner. He begins awaiting her return as soon as she left for work in the morning. Chloe the cat, on the other hand, enjoys her time alone. At the end of the day she seems annoyed by the intrusion of her master into her domain.
While not seeking to favor Max over Chloe (or spark a dogs versus cats debate), I believe the difference in their characters illustrates a greater reality.
In 1 Corinthians 1:7, Paul described his readers as “waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The sense is that of “eagerly waiting” Jesus’ appearing, an excited expectation of His arrival. The Apostle used the same word in Philippians 3:20 to also speak of our joyous anticipation of Jesus’ return to take us home.
Do you see it? Doesn’t that sound more like Max than Chloe? The apostles focused the hope of New Testament believers solely upon Jesus’ return for them (1 Pet. 1:13; 1 John 3:1-3). New Testament believers awaited Jesus’ return for them with great expectancy. Such hope characterized their response to the Gospel (Titus 2:11-13; I Thess. 1:9-10).
Why is this so foreign to our thinking today? Why do so many Christians take a ho-hum attitude to Jesus’ return?
I believe several factors contribute to this.
Mockery: My heart aches as I see the ridicule of the rapture on social media. What are believers to think when they see others who claim to love the Lord openly mocking their hope in His appearing? This ridicule of our hope leads some believers into the paths of those who deny our hope in Jesus’ imminent return. For other Christians, such contempt tempers their anticipation of Jesus' return; the rapture becomes far too controversial of an event upon which to place their hope.
Misconceptions: Depictions of glorified believers sitting all alone on clouds strumming harps also dampen our anticipation of eternity. While we will worship Jesus forever, Scripture paints a much more exciting and wonderful picture of eternity than that of a long dull worship service or of playing instruments by ourselves on a cloud. We will reign with Christ in His earthly kingdom and then forevermore throughout eternity. Doesn’t that sound much more exciting than some lowly angel seeking to gain his wings? I believe the joy and excitement ahead for us at Jesus’ return will far surpass all we can imagine.
“I’ve heard that before:” Back in the 1960s’ and 1970’s, eschatology became a hot topic. Many churches emphasized the imminent return of Jesus. I remember Jack Van Impe coming to my church to teach for an entire week about Bible prophecy.
As time has passed, however, believers have lost their expectancy of Jesus’ return. Having looked for Jesus’ return for so long, I understand the sentiment that finds it difficult to believe He will appear anytime soon. After all, we have heard it all before and nothing has happened. However, with so much prophecy being fulfilled before our eyes, if there was ever a time to be watchful for the Master, it is now!
Silence: Unfortunately, rather than increase their focus on Jesus’ return as the signs of His coming multiply, many churches have become mostly silent regarding future things. How can believers be excited about their future hope if its details are never taught? It’s not easy for Christians to focus their hope on something so rarely proclaimed in our churches.
The above factors, and perhaps many more, have made many believers rather blasé regarding Jesus’ appearing. Dare I say many Christians today resemble the character of Chloe rather than Max regarding Jesus’ return?
While we do not copy the behavior of Max who was willing to do nothing other than sit by the door waiting for his master to return, perhaps his eager anticipation of seeing his master is something we do need to imitate. Are we waiting for His coming?