After his visit, my father-in-law doesn’t say goodbye. “Be here when I get back,” he tells each of us. This thought encompasses so much more than “farewell.” It says, “take care of yourself,” “I want to see you again,” “I intend to return because I will miss you”…so much more than “goodbye” ever could.

I like to think that Jesus, in his death and resurrection, said much of the same thing, but on a different level — bigger pool, bigger rock, bigger ripples. Christ wants us to be here for him when he gets back in a human way, but also on a spiritual level.

First of all, he wants us to literally be here. He wants the earth to exist, for people to exist, for the world and her occupants to flourish. This intention serves up a silent command to care for earth’s resources, as well as to care for one another. Killing and war are not ways to keep ourselves around. Wastefulness will not extend our lifetimes. Economic disparity, while good for a small percentage, will not cause the other 99% to endure.

Next, Jesus wants us to show up for him. That is, he wants us to do what he asked us to do: to forgive one another, to help the poor and sick, to love not just as we wish to be loved, but as God loves. (I’m reminded of the show “Square Pegs” — yes, I’m dating myself — wherein the New Wave character distinguishes himself from punkers by pointing to his hair-do: “Totally different head. Totally.” To love as we want to be loved is all well and good; to love as God loves…that’s a totally different head.)

Lastly, Jesus want us to be in a state of grace when he returns at the end of the world. No, we don’t know when that will be (some fringe group predicted it would be the day I wrote this). But whenever it is, for one of us or all of us, we need to be ready. That necessitates working on ourselves constantly, striving to know ourselves better, to understand our motivations and emotions better and improve the ways we represent God in the world. Because hopefully, we do. Or, rather, we do — whether we realize it or not. God is a God of love. That’s how God wants to be known and shown. If we are believers, it is our responsibility to portray that love in all we do. If we are not believers…well, why not do good anyway? Those who do evil are remembered for a while. But those who do great good are remembered for far, far longer. And isn’t immortality — in some way, shape or form — what we all want?

I am certain of few things, but I know God loves us. Let us respond in kind. Let us care for the gifts we’ve been given, which includes one another, show compassion in our day-to-day living, and stand strong in the face of evil for the right of love to persevere. Let’s be here when God gets back. Okay?

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