It seems like every few years there's talk about the "End Times" and that this is it. Within my lifetime there have been several sects that have claimed to know the exact date of the end of the world, perhaps most famous and tragic was the Heaven's Gate cult. They were all wrong. The Christian tradition is not immune to this either. It could be argued that since the day Jesus ascended into Heaven we have been living in the end times.
The concern about the End Times has been part of the Christian community from the very beginning. The early Christians were convinced that Jesus' return was imminent, so it was shocking when members of the flock started dying from old age. St. Paul told the church at Thessalonica that salvation was promised to believers whether they were awake or asleep (dead) (1 Thess 5:9-10).
Here are the truths to keep in mind:
1.) We live in a fallen world.
2.) God's plan is not our plan. The moment of Creation, the Big Bang, occurred about 16,000,000,000 years ago. It wasn't until 2000 years ago that God took on flesh in the person of Jesus. There was a lot of preparation time from Creation to Christ. True, the Second Coming might be next week, but it might be millennia.
3.) This is what Christ himself told the disciples regarding the return of The Son of Man, "There will be those who will say to you, 'Look, there he is,' or 'Look, here he is.' Do not go off, do not run in pursuit. For just as lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. (Luke 17:20-25)"
There is a temptation in believing that the Second Coming will occur in my lifetime: complacency. If I am convinced that Jesus is coming back soon, then I may not care for the weakest in society or stay silent in the face of evil because I think, "Jesus will show them." I am called to live each day as if Jesus' return is tomorrow, but I am to be like one of the wise virgins who kept the wick of her lamp trimmed and ready for the return of the Master (Matthew 25:1-13).
Confidence in the return of the Lord is a tenet of the Creed, but I can never forget that I am the hands, feet, mouthpiece, and love of the Lord while waiting His return.