Why should anyone follow Jesus if all people will be saved at his return anyway?

We are approaching the end of the second phase of our reconciliation to God. The Hebrew nation was the first stepping-stone, yet many of today’s Christians have no Jewish heritage at-all yet they nevertheless walk on that second stone despite it’s root being in the Jewish nation. Gentiles at the time were not destroyed when the Messiah came to earth, instead were invited to follow God as Jesus told his disciples:

“And this good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.”
Matthew 24:14

God’s care was not to be limited to the Jewish nation! All the surrounding nations were welcome to follow God’s next step.

Not everyone today wishes to be a Christian now: many do not believe in God, many do not trust anything rooted in the Jewish way of life, while many Jews do not trust this Jesus who overturned their traditions and opened up God’s favour to the rest of the world. However for them all their beliefs are their own – free will preserved – and almost everyone of those souls is sincere in their priceless love of God.

So when the Christ returns, then they will be in the position that the Gentiles were in in the first century. When our Lord arrives – and for Christians he is “our” Lord – then he will also become the Lord and friend and delight of all those non-Christians today who choose to follow him, just like many of our ancestors which has lead to such a blessing for our worship as Christians today.

“So why follow him now when there seem to be no special reward for doing so, and no damnation for not?”

There are very good reasons! Firstly it is the way which God Himself declared by Jesus’ own life. We do not need to discover any hidden knowledge for salvation – everything is simple and has all been set out for us. Secondly it gives us Divine guidance from the scriptures on the spirit of God’s way of life rather than merely a set of rules – a spirit to contemplate and cultivate and make our own in the way we live our lives. We are not merely being herded, but encouraged to beautify that spirit of life in our own creative and caring way. And thirdly it prepares us for the next step – our Lord’s return – which will move us very much away from the thinking of the world. Our Christian experience now will help us to have confidence in the direction he gives – and we will need that confidence because many of those changes will affect things common to our own lives.

But perhaps the most touching reason is that very lack of “reward or damnation”. Religions almost always have a “carrot and stick” approach: heavenly or everlasting life for the loyal, eternal death or hellfire for those who are not.
There are practical reasons for following the Christ now, but the one which touches the heart is his welcoming manner which neither threatens nor demands.
Our Lord has no such threats, he needs us to retain our free will to let our sincerity show – whatever our way of worship. Our Lord Jesus Christ is so easy to trust, so easy to approach, with no fear of being greeted with threat and ultimatum. Those who cannot or do not follow him now can nevertheless feel a real comfort in this – that when (or “if” in their eyes) he does return then he will be as kind and as understanding and as was in Palestine. The new stepping-stone he sets out will be there for Christians and non-Christians to walk on – the Christ, and not the Christians, owns it. It will not be merely written Law as in the days of the Hebrews, or written gospels as in his first coming – but he will be present for the entire journey, no faith needed, everything visible, everything certain beyond doubt.

One further reason for following him is that we are only partway through the theme of the Bible. It is a book partly written, awaiting the final chapters detailing our own day – when the adversary’s taunt that man does not need God – is proved a lie, and Mankind’s thousand year recovery and eventual donation by Christ to Almighty God Himself (1st to the Corinthians 15:22-28). Thereafter the completed book will be a history book – a description of Mankind’s first stage, completed. Doubtless, there will be other books, perhaps again taking thousands of years each, hopefully on much more positive and beneficial themes!
As we perceive the reason behind our Lord’s return, we can appreciate that God is doing everything to preserve all people and give everyone the opportunity to learn from Christ during his reign.
And each of those too will become part of our history. Christianity today is far from the destination! – it is just a single part of Mankind’s journey which non-Christians will join too, just as Gentiles did starting with Cornelius at the preaching of the good news 2,000 years ago (Acts 10:1-7).

We have very good reasons to follow our Lord today! a great stability in preparation for his return and we recommend it for those who can. But Jesus’ kind and welcoming character is a guarantee of easy approach to those who never have the opportunity and never hear of him. The future is wonderful, and because of Jesus Christ there is no need for anyone to be afraid.