THE JANUARY 3, 1975, issue of Christianity Today suggests that Christian churches begin to plan now for the bimillennial. Not the bicentennial but the bimillennial! This term, of course, refers to the two-thousandth anniversary of the birth of Christ.
In the lead article David Kucharsky calls for a "momentous anniversary tribute" that would include "achievements that would normally be out of the question." He envisions elements of this celebration that would be lasting and could be "enjoyed over and over again and appreciated for a long time."
To assure such an out-of-the-ordinary bimillennial celebration, he calls for a "world-wide, church-wide brainstorming session" to begin essential planning now. It's none too early to plan for "what should be one of the greatest and grandest events in human history," he suggests.
Every Adventist minister might heartily "Amen" this last statement. Our every waking moment should be spent in getting ready for the greatest and grandest event in human history. But that grand event is not the 200th anniversary of Christ's first coming. It is His glorious second coming.
In fairness to Kucharsky's article we must note that he does point out that "Christ certainly could return before the year 2000." He adds that we "would be hard pressed to find scriptural justification for using that belief as an excuse to sit down on the job." The job he refers to is not the job of preparing for the bimillennial celebration, but the job of making disciples for Christ's kingdom, which he sees as the main objective of the proposed anniversary tribute.
But right here is where we must take exception. We believe that in stead of anticipating a great evangelistic thrust centered around the bimillennial celebration, we must plan, pray, and work all the harder right now to assure that Christ's return takes place long before any such anniversary becomes necessary. What a defeat it would be for the Christian church to still be here on this deteriorating, crime-filled earth at the turn of the second millennium since Christ.
What a challenge even the suggestion of planning for a bimillennial celebration brings to us. If our Christian friends are beginning to seriously consider such planning, how much more serious we should become in preparing our hearts and our churches for the revival and reformation essential before Christ can come.
Kucharsky goes back in time to the year A.D. 1000 to find out what Christians did and were thinking at the time of the turn of the first Christian millennium. What did he discover?
He quotes historians who indicate that the approach of that great way-point in Christian history brought forth fear rather than festivity. They anticipated that the final judgment would come at the end of that millennium. Crowds of pilgrims flocked to Palestine expecting to greet the second advent of Christ there. The bishops urged a "truce of Cod" on the feudal lords who had been engaged in continual fighting. Otto III, the Holy Roman Emperor, came up with a scheme for establishing the capital of a renewed Christian Roman Empire in Rome and in the year 1000 began work on an imperial palace in that city.
But then came January 1, 1001, and the much-feared judgment had not taken place after all. So what happened? With a great sigh of relief Christians settled down to business as usual!
What a lesson for us! They were not really eager for Christ to come. They were only terribly concerned that He might come and catch them unprepared.
What about us? Are we truly eager to hasten our Lord's return? Or should we start planning with our Christian friends to celebrate the bimillennial?