A gracEmail subscriber writes: “Last Sunday as we sang the song Come Lord Jesus, Come, it struck me that I really don’t want Him to come — not now. It makes me feel like a hypocrite to offer praise and worship as if I do. I’m not ready for Jesus to come and my earthly life to end. I want to live out whatever the Lord has planned for me. I know that life hereafter will be so much more than we can imagine but I don’t want that life yet. I want to see my children happily married. I want to see them and their spouses grow in their own walks with Jesus. I want to experience the joy of grandchildren. I want to grow old with my spouse.”
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I appreciate your honesty. You are certainly not alone. Throughout my entire Christian life I have had the same feeling when singing songs of total commitment, such as: “gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures, Jesus, thy perfect likeness to wear.” The truth is I come short of such commitment, although I wish I reached that level. I have dealt with the discrepancy in two ways.
Sometimes I change the words from a declaration to a prayer and say, “Enable me gladly to forfeit . . . .” At other times I think of the declaration as an aspiration and say the words as coming from my highest nature, the Spirit of God within me. It is much the same as Paul’s confession in Romans 7, that when he aspires to do good, he realizes that he comes short, for he never does the good as fully as he wishes he might.
The song you mention, Come, Lord Jesus, Come, provides a third explanation that can avoid hypocrisy. That is to think in terms of the big picture instead of the selfish smaller picture. On that scale we contemplate all the suffering in the world, the injustice, the persecution, slavery, oppression, all the sickness, starvation and wars. It is easy to pray for Jesus to come now and end those terrible things. At that level, we set aside for the moment our personal ambitions, goals and wishes and pray on a higher and more inclusive scale. When doing that, I believe we may speak truthfully also and not be guilty of hypocrisy.