What would you do today if you knew Jesus was coming tomorrow? Luther: Plant an apple tree!

What if you knew that Jesus would return tomorrow morning? That question was asked often in church as I was growing up. In case we didn’t have a ready answer, we were usually told what we should be found doing. The question was meant to light the fire underneath us for extraordinary undertakings. Who would want to be found grocery shopping or driving home from work? However, wiser Christians remind us that being found at our daily callings, glorifying and enjoying God in ordinary ways, is a better answer. Taking in the April scent and clucking chickens from his window, Luther is reported to have said, ‘Even if I knew the world was going to end tomorrow, I would still plant an apple tree today.’

Even if this is one of the many spurious Luther quotes, it still expresses a biblical wisdom he often shared. After all, the apostle Paul answered this question directly in 1 Thessalonians 4. As the day of the Lord approaches, he says, believers; are ‘aspire to live quietly, and to mind [their] own affairs, and to work with [their] hands’ (4:11). It doesn’t sound very world-transforming. Yet it is precisely in the habits that make up a life like this that believers live ‘properly before outsiders and [are] dependent on no one’ (v.12).

…What did you do for the kingdom today? How did you impact the world for Christ? Our tendency might be to hesitate at that point, trying desperately to recall something worth reporting. Yet every day, in all sorts of ways we’re not even aware of, the kingdom is growing and our neighbors are being served. …Don’t lose the focus. Jesus has bound Satan (Mark 3:27; Luke 10:17). Now we are free to do the little things that matter, without anxiety about how it all turns out in the end. ‘In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart: I have overcome the world’ (John 16:33).

ordinary-MHorton-2014Taken from chapter 11,  “After Ordinary: Anticipating the Revolution” (p.207-08) of Michael Horton’s Or-di-nar-y: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World (Zondervan, 2014).

This last chapter deals with our Christian hope in connection with that ‘ordinary’ life the author has been at pains to explain in this book. But, as this final chapter shows once again, the believer’s ‘ordinary’ life is anything but, in view of what is to come when Jesus returns. Living the “already/not-yet” paradox of our glorification, we learn that our life in Christ now and in the future truly is ‘extra-ordinary.’