When someone tells you something they don’t think you’ll want to hear, they often begin with “Which do you want first, the good news or the bad?” Human nature being what it is, we often choose the bad news first, hoping that the good news will cancel out how bad the bad really is. “You have cancer—but we caught it early.” “We’re eliminating your job—but offering you another position with better pay.” “Something is definitely growing inside your dog—and it’s puppies!”

But what about the following good news/bad news? Jesus is coming soon—and soon may mean today. How can the same news be both good and bad? Here is a hint. This time it doesn’t depend on the news, but on the one who is receiving it. The same news is good to those who believe in Jesus but bad to those who have rejected him. Some eagerly anticipate Jesus’ return while others scoff at His imminent arrival. Or they believe it’s going to happen, but it’s still bad because they worry they aren’t ready. This good news/bad news is the same news, just good or bad depending upon the hearer.

Sometimes people withhold information because they don’t know how it will be accepted, they don’t want to cause stress to the hearer. But that’s not the case with God; He doesn’t withhold something this important. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, Paul tells the believers in Thessalonica not to worry about their loved ones who had already died believing in Jesus. Yes, they are gone and you grieve for them (bad news)—but one day they will return with the Lord to claim their resurrected bodies (good news). “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven . . . and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and thus we shall always be with the Lord.” Jesus is coming back! We may not know when, but we know the good news.

For some, the bad news is that Jesus is returning and they will have to face a God that they have scorned all their life. Remember, this is about people, not the news. Jesus is coming for His followers who have been redeemed by His blood and made righteous in God’s eyes. In Philippians 3:20-21 (TLB) we are reminded that “our homeland is in heaven, where our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ is and we are looking forward to his return from there. When he comes back he will take these dying bodies of ours and exchange them into glorious bodies like his own . . .”

Not a believer? Then that is bad news for you and it is very bad indeed. There will be no excuses. No “Wait, I didn’t have time for God-stuff, I’m not ready” or “It didn’t make sense to me and I’m not sure I believe all this end-of-the-age stuff anyway. I have my own beliefs, thank you very much.”

There are times when bad news can be changed with second opinions or circumstances that change, but don’t hold your breath on this one. The only thing that will change the outcome of this news is your response to it. The bad news is that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

But the very best good news of all? God does not want “any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 2:9).