My wife and I recently watched a particular movie for the first time even though it’s been out for over a decade. Although the most prominent actor in the film is Richard Gere, the real star of the story is a dog named Hachi. I understand that the whole account is based on a real event. This dog would faithfully meet his owner at the train station every day at 5 p.m. when he returned from work. However, one day the man left for his job never to return, having collapsed at his workplace and ending up dying. Nevertheless, Hachi continued to watch and wait for his master at the train station. Amazingly, the dog maintained his vigilance at that location for 10 years until finally passing away too. He became an inspiring symbol of loyalty and devotion.
Are we as loyal and devoted to our absent Master? In a real sense, Jesus is still with us through His Spirit who lives within those who put their trust in Him as Savior. However, He’s no longer physically present on this earth in the same way as when He was in the flesh some 2,000 years ago. He died, too. Yet He was also resurrected. But then He left His disciples, ascending into heaven with the promise of returning one day. Have we forgotten? Are we going about our lives without any thought about our Master coming back one day? Have we given up on Him and gone back to our old way of life? Or are we still watching and waiting? Are we still being loyal to Him in spite of His prolonged absence?
The departure of Hachi’s owner was unexpected, while Jesus’ leaving was not, at least not for Him. He warned His followers that it was coming. He even instructed them in what they needed to do while He was gone. How do we exhibit our loyalty and love for Him until His return? Unlike the dog in the movie, it isn’t primarily by sitting in some sacred spot in anticipation of His Second Coming. We aren’t to be simply sitting in our churches or taking a pilgrimage to some sacred site in order to hold a vigil until our Master shows up again. No, we show our devotion to Him by staying busy being involved in what He instructed us to be doing until He comes back.
Some of the parables He told related to His coming reveal how we should be exhibiting our loyalty to Him in the meantime. The parable about the virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) reminds us to guard against falling into the sleep of spiritual complacency. We need to maintain the condition of our souls, keeping our hearts filled with the oil of the Holy Spirit. The parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) shows us that we aren’t supposed to be just idly hiding out until Jesus returns. We should be using the resources and abilities He’s entrusted to us to honor Him and accomplish His purposes until He returns. The story about the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46) reminds us to be busy showing compassion to others and taking care of their needs until we stand before the Lord to give an account of ourselves one day. And the parable of the faithful servant (Matthew 24:45-51) tells us to be diligent in fulfilling whatever responsibilities our Master has given us. Based on other final instructions to His followers, those duties would include proclaiming the gospel and helping lead others into His kingdom to become His disciples.
So let’s be examples of loyalty and devotion to our Master by faithfully continuing to do His will and His work until He returns.