How could a divine individual, wielding so much personal power, pretty much leave the world as he found it—in turmoil?
Yeah, He fed a few thousand people, healed a couple of them from terrible diseases, even bringing a dead person back to life. And He showed a warm spot in his heart for little children, but the scope of His helpfulness was relatively limited for a God, and left much to be desired.
In fact, Jesus had to promise that He would come back to finish His job. Did He put off for tomorrow what he could have done at his first Advent? Jesus made His promise two thousand years ago. That is a big “tomorrow!”
Was Jesus a slacker or are we missing something?
Perhaps, instead of our waiting for the Lord’s return, the Lord is actually waiting for something to happen within us. Perhaps we don’t understand what is necessary for real, positive change in the world. Perhaps, seeking seemingly noble goals like social justice and equality on the terrestrial globe, evades the real issue. Jesus certainly seemed to not give these goals His top priority.
Scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg claimed that there is more to the biblical account of Jesus’ life than meets the eye. Where Jesus did indeed have absolute success was in changing a world we give little thought to—a much more expansive world—the spiritual realms of heaven and hell.
Hidden from human observation, Jesus actually entered the physical world in order to gain the finite body and worldly character necessary to create a battleground (medium) for the Hells to attack Him. (Otherwise, finite devils cannot attack an Infinite God—there simply is no ratio between the two. If there is no battle, there is no victory.)
During His physical life on earth, the Lord Jesus overcame every temptation and compulsion from the vanities and allurements of the world that the Hells could throw at Him. With each victory, Jesus brought new order into both Heaven and Hell (to protect the angels and put Hell in its place). The Lord’s re-establishing of the cosmic equilibrium between these spiritual influences also allowed terrestrial humans to continue to enjoy free will. Swedenborg learned that it is this deeper story of spiritual combat and restoring divine order to this invisible realm of the spirit that would be revealed at the promised “Second Coming.”
This deeper story is remote, obscured and hidden within the literal words of Holy Scripture. That is why the Lord will return with the clouds—to break through this obscurity in human understanding. When men and women of the earth are willing to bear these deeper revelations and gain a new theological understanding of God’s Word they will also receive more precise information as to how to bear their own cross and restructure their inner world more closely towards divine order.
This personally intimate inner battle (purification) is what will qualify the sincerity and innocence of our individual worldly deeds—no matter how noble they may appear to those around us. God’s greatest concern is in leading us back towards a state of innocence (even the evil-minded can perform noble deeds—but with a hidden agenda). That is why Jesus was not so interested in using his divine muscle and brute force to make external changes in human society. These external tactics don’t reach our hearts, and therefore, don’t lead to real or lasting change!