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Your final hour

"Dear children, this is the last hour..." 1 John 2. 18

Last night I dreamed about a man with a rare form of cancer - of the hands. As soon as the doctor saw the man he pronounced that he had no more than one hour to live. The man was a highly regarded pillar of his church and so those around him were curious as to how he would spend that crucial final hour... According to the witnesses in my dream, he first boiled doughnuts for his work-mates and then he prepared a gourmet meal for his wife.

I don't have the gift of interpretation, so I cannot offer an explanation of my dream. But it does draw attention to an awareness of the imminence of the end of time which permeates the latter half of the New Testament, from Acts to Revelation. It derives from the expectation of Jesus' return to judge the world and establish his Kingdom: the New Creation, when heaven comes to earth (Ephesians 1. 10). No date is given, so Jesus taught his followers that they/ we should live in a state of permanent readiness (Matthew 25. 1-13).

So, what does that look like? And, if you knew the moment was as near, how would you spend your final hour?

For believers, especially those who are suffering, the return of Jesus is a matter for rejoicing and cannot come soon enough. Yet our expectation is tempered by the awareness that we would be found as wanting as anyone in the face of God's judgment (Romans 3. 23) and it is only on account of the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf that we shall be judged according to his righteousness and not as our sins deserve.

So I would suggest that a good part of that final hour would be spent confirming our faith in Jesus and securing it through forgiving those against whom we may be harbouring a grudge or any form of resentment (Matthew 18. 21-35). The doughnuts and gourmet meal can wait - or are they signs of something even more compelling?

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