“The end is near.” That’s a phrase we have long heard that more people seem to believe.

Just the other day, I had lunch with a gentlemen, a fellow Southern Baptist. We were discussing some complex issues facing our denomination, and he said at the end of our talk, “You know, I am not going to worry about it much or try to do anything, because I am convinced Jesus is coming back soon anyway.”

He said, “It’s a moot point.” I sat there stunned but not entirely surprised, because I am seeing more news about the end times, more clamor about prophecy in the news. Just last month, there were major predictions that world-ending events would happen. Before that, it was the Blood Moons. Before that, it was the year 2012. Before that, it was the Y2K.

There is something about this generation of Christians that is particularly fascinated by end-times prophecies. Why? Here are three possible reasons:

// Excitement

As Christians, we know that Jesus is coming back. His return means, not only that sin and the devil will be fully and finally dealt with, but that we will enjoy the full blessings of resurrection life in His presence. What a glorious thought!

The thought is so glorious, though, that many people may unwittingly neglect to focus on God’s mission for their life in the here and now. In our excitement for Christ’s return, we must not lose focus on the fact that there are untold millions of people who are lost and bound for hell, apart from His saving grace. Without Christ’s redeeming work in their lives, His return will mean being cast out of His presence forever. Let’s channel our excitement toward evangelism.

// Escape

Jesus said, “In this life, you will have trouble. But take heart, for I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Around the world, there are Christian people facing harsh conditions and terrible persecution. There are people trapped in lives of abuse, human trafficking, terrorist attacks, addictions and even slavery. Men, women and children face broken relationships and awful diseases, with suffering few can imagine.

To these people—indeed to every person who is in Christ—His return means relief from suffering. It means victory over death and suffering, and full reconciliation with God and others. God gives us hope amid our trials to deal with sufferings by the truth of His return. At the same time, He gives us His abiding presence during our suffering, not to escape from it, but to make us rely on Him more.

As Corrie Ten Boom wrote, “There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.” Not only in His return, but in our present circumstances can we know that love.

// Excuse

The Bible says, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” (Matt. 24:36). “No one knows” includes you and me, too. We can rejoice in the truths about Christ’s return, telling people the Good News and promises of God’s Word, without it becoming an excuse to do nothing in the meantime. God has put us where we are “for such a time as this.”

I, for one, hope my friend is right, and that Jesus is indeed coming soon. But until He returns or calls me home, here in the love of Christ we must stand and proclaim the Gospel to all. Come, Lord Jesus…