The Return of Jesus Christ: An Inside Job

by Joshua Tilghman on August 2, 2013

4219294871_ed6e239dfb_oThe return of Christ is the most respected and anxiously awaited day for Christians. The Bible states that when he comes back, he’s going to rule every tribe, tongue, and nation. But has the original meaning of the return of Christ lost its significance? Are Christians forfeiting a much greater revelation of the truth by believing in a literal return? What if the true import of the return of Christ is far more real, far more enduring, and far more fulfilling than Christendom could have ever imagined, without a literal return?

In many respects, the world seems dismal today. I can understand the desire for escape. If many Christians are honest with themselves, that’s exactly why the return of Christ seems so awesome—it’s an escape from their present reality of a life and a world that seem so distorted and unjust. If Christ returns to put everything back in order, maybe our lives will have truer meaning and fulfillment. But there’s one important truth that we can never fail to overlook: you can’t escape yourself. It is our duty to realize that lasting contentment and peace cannot come from external circumstances. It can only come from within.

Perhaps the return of Christ is an inside job, then? Could it truly be all about something that happens within you?

I’m pretty sure Jesus tried to make this clear in a discussion with the Pharisees. The Bible states:

 “And when he [ Jesus] was demanded of the Pharisees, when the Kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation” (Luke 17:20).

In other words, Jesus tells the Pharisees that the kingdom of God isn’t an external event that you’re going to see with your physical eyes. It’s not coming that way!

To be honest, I’m relieved. I would much rather it be about a change that happens on the inside since that’s the only place lasting fulfillment can truly manifest. We must bear in mind that a change within the soul has far more meaning that any external event.

Preparing for his return

The way Jesus tells us to prepare also lets us know his return is an inside job. He states:

“Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.” (Mark 13: 33).

“The time is” refers to his return of course, and Jesus says to “watch” for it. The Greek word is gregoreuo, which means: watch, be vigilant, awake. But if the return of Christ and the kingdom of God aren’t external events, why would we be instructed to “watch” for it?

In modern terms, the word “watch” more accurately translates to becoming conscious, aware, or mindful. They fit our discussion in this post well because the meanings of awareness and mindfulness don’t just encompass external events; it’s more about our inner state of being. For example, you can be aware of an altered state of consciousness which might not have anything to do with what’s going on around you. Rather, it could be something that his happening within you.

In the next verse Jesus states:

For the son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefor: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cock crowing, or in the morning” (Mark 13: 34).

Again, Jesus tells us to watch, or become conscious, of his return. He compares us to the porter of a house who must be aware in order to realize the return.

I find it fascinating that Jesus talks about the “son of man” as a concept instead of a person. Did you notice that? Reread what I have bolded in the verse above again and then ask yourself why would he do that? Hopefully you came to understand that it is because the “son of man” symbolizes a journey of the soul, and the journey is about what takes place on the inside, not the outside. The “son of man” represents the action wherein the soul is being made perfect, towards the image of the Christ. It is about the journey going from being a “son of man” to becoming a “son of God.” Becoming a son of God is the end of the far journey wherein we have conformed to the image of Christ.

Could being conformed to the image of the Christ actually be the Biblical meaning of the return of Christ? What if the return of Christ is about the return of our true nature?

As I revealed in my last post, Praying without Ceasing, the command to pray was a form of meditation. Watching is the same. It is to seek to become aware of our true selves. Watching / meditation draws spirit towards the soul. Instead of giving animation to the senses, it gives it to the soul, transforming it. The ultimate goal of this transformation is a complete release into freedom and contentment, the natural state of BEING underneath the limitations, ties, and attractions of the ego. The return of Christ then symbolizes a union of the individual with God, wherein the lower nature and the ego are transformed into the spiritual ego and highest nature.

Meditation is an act helping to reveal the true self because it takes us beyond the ego. It is a state of consciousness between the dream state and the waking state of the senses. Somewhere deep in this state the true self—which isn’t restricted to our wants and desires founded in selfishness and separateness—is revealed.

The true self acts in love. In love is true freedom of choice because love is not influenced in any manner by external circumstances or the ego. It is a purely selfless act. Love is what binds the universe together. It is the ONE-ness of God. God is love, and love is God’s one-ness.

Jesus commands us to “watch” as the porter of the house because in the act of meditation, as the watcher, we learn to experience that state of mind that is already at peace and rest, our true abiding nature.

As you already know, our lives are a complicated web of events that make it hard to realize this abiding state of contentment and peace. We may catch glimpses of this peace from time to time, but they are rare and certainly not abiding. When Jesus commands us to “watch,” he is commanding us to abide in that state of mind to await the grand finale, wherein the master returns. The returning master / Christ is the complete and utter realization of our true natures, which is that state of consciousness wherein complete contentment and peace is the abiding nature.

In the rest of that chapter in Mark, Jesus continues:

“Lest coming quickly he finds you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch” (Mark 13: 36-37).

To be “sleeping” at his coming means to be unconscious and unaware. You don’t want to travel the long journey only to be unconscious of your true self. Jesus returning quickly refers to the fact that the Christ is always there, beyond the limitations of the ego. His return could be at any moment as an inside job within your soul. You only need to watch / meditate to continue the journey towards that ultimate realization.

The Most Important Thing

In the beginning of this article I asked the question: What if the true revelation of the return of Christ is far more real, enduring, and fulfilling than Christianity has dared to dream, without a literal return? Wouldn’t this be true if the return of Christ is about a transformation in the human soul, wherein peace and contentment reign? If everybody were to reach this state, free from attachment and desires of the lower self, than the kingdom of God truly would be manifested on this earth. And it would be based on love. This is better than any external kingdom where the ruler has to force a state of righteousness. Where there is force, do you really have a peaceful kingdom? Where there is force, do you really have contentment?

This is why we must see the return of Christ as an inside job, and we must begin to prepare for it the way Jesus teaches us. It is through prayer / meditation, where we commune with that part of ourselves where God dwells to be transformed by his spirit. As we are slowly transformed by the part of us which is truly at peace and contentment, the outside world will be effected through the love we pour out.

Perhaps waiting for a literal return of Christ to fix our external reality is a fleeting ghost? Perhaps the return of Christ is but a meditation away, and the only way for us to see what is already there is to be completely still so that the smoke and fog of our lives clear. Just perhaps. But then it would almost seem too simple, wouldn’t it? Doesn’t there have to be more to it, or do those questions also arise from the ego? I’ll let you decide.

Shawn August 3, 2013 at 12:29 am

Wonderful article. The kingdom of God is within us all! Biblical allegory is amazing and reveals such wonderful truths to those that seek!

Joshua Tilghman August 10, 2013 at 12:20 pm

Shawn,

It took me a long time to see that Bible is allegory, but only because I spent most of my life thinking it was literal. It takes awhile to look deeper.

anny August 3, 2013 at 2:56 am

Hello Joshua,

You write: ‘What if the return of Christ is about the return of our true nature?’

I think you might also see it as the return to our true nature. It always has been our true nature and has never left, only we fell asleep and were not aware of it anymore.

Apart from that, I have never seen the literal return of Christ as a force that would come to rule over us and would force us to do things we might not want to do. I always saw that also as the return of the rule of Love; Love that would change you forever and deliver you from these traits that you could not get rid of yourself. The way I saw it was not really that much different from the way I see it now; it only changed from an outside job to an inside job as you call it. Great title by the way! And a great article as well.

Joshua Tilghman August 10, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Thank you Anny. Blessings!

Robert August 11, 2013 at 2:43 pm

This message climaxed with a deep and open ended conclusion. There seems to be room for a literal fulfillment of Christ’s return of some kind, maybe. I found that very practical and effective to leave a little room for the reader to ponder. Even though I am now more familiar with the non-literal interpretation, and can gain a lot of insight and inspiration from it, there seems to be a part of me that at times still seems to need a personal savior. I do not know if this need is an illusion from years of religious conditioning, or whether something deep inside me knows there is more to it than what is non-literal.

Joshua Tilghman August 12, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Robert,

I am sure many people on the spiritual path share your dilemma here. I certainly understand it. Maybe the answer is that it’s both, only in a way that we have a hard time grasping with the thinking mind.

anny August 17, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Hi Joshua and Robert,

Actually I think it does not have to be a dilemma. I think it is almost certainly both, according to the principle As above so below. When I wrote my comment above it was in reaction to the idea of an outside job but of course there is also the bigger picture which we should not forget.

nancy terrell August 28, 2013 at 2:04 pm

I loved this post as I found it to be so true to my life. One of the disagreements that I always had with literal Christianity is that we are all born in sin. The Buddhists totally disagree. It is their philosophy that we each are born with “Buddha Nature” and it is our job, upon the separation of our birth from this Buddha Nature, to reconnect with it through meditation. This, of course, says exactly the same thing that you do and I know, from my life, that this is a total truth.

Thank you —

Joshua Tilghman August 29, 2013 at 9:43 pm

And the deeper meanings of the Bible teach this, too, Nancy. Thanks for commenting!

Paula Kempf September 29, 2013 at 3:36 pm

It is so sad that many think they are still waiting for Messiahs Return when he has been here all along & they have missed the mark once again :’-(

Dave June 18, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Actually the Return of the Christ has already occurred. He is just waiting to declare himself when the world is ready to receive him. And it is definitely not the end of the world. See christhasreturned.org for more info

Willa October 29, 2014 at 9:57 pm

Luke 17:24 “For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day.”

Have you ever watch a lightning storm during the night? When lightning strikes it lights up the night sky like noon day and you can see everything that was once darkness. When the Son comes his light will shine on just one part and it will bring understanding to everything. Lightning striking at night is a perfect analogy. It cannot be missed. Also it says he comes like a thief in the night. Well how do you know when a thief in the night has come? You wake up… :). Or you are already awake. People are missing it and don’t even know it.

Thanks for the wake up call.

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