For an explanation of this series, of which this post is a part, see Brandon E’s Objections: #1.
When I used to hold a more traditional evangelical view as you do, Brandon, I, too, would relegate issues like the Second Coming to a secondary tier of importance. However, when God revealed to me that the truth that the kingdom had come, this, ipso facto, elevated the issue in importance.
Here’s how: I had been ignoring, for example, the clear thrust of the New Testament which called for the coming of the kingdom of God in that generation. Instead, I had been leaning on traditional church teaching along the lines that you follow. It had never occurred to me to go back and take seriously all the biblical promises about the timing and the nature of the Second Coming and study them. I had just put them out of my mind, and explained them away when troubling questions came up. I had just been assuming – along with the rest of the evangelical and historic Protestant church – that the Lord’s coming would be physical and bodily and therefore obviously had not taken place. Once I saw the clarity of the Lord’s promises regarding His coming, I could no longer deny them. (By the way, I put the results of that study I finally did on those promises in the book Whatever Became of Jesus Christ?) I realized that if these promises could not be trusted, neither could any of His other promises be trusted.
I also remembered that He told us to seek first the kingdom of God. If the kingdom had come and I wasn’t seeking it, then I wasn’t obeying Him. Moreover, if the kingdom of God had not come (and leaving aside for the moment the hole that would blow in the New Testament’s credibility) we should be doing the church the way it was done in the New Testament as we waited on the Lord to come. Yet the church today is not acting like the apostolic church. There is no one of them I could go to that would match what the apostles prescribed. (You and I have been over this, and you never would tell me what church you go to and how closely it does or doesn’t match the one we read about in the New Testament.)
Therefore, the coming of the kingdom is directly tied to the integrity and faithfulness of the Lord. If the kingdom has not come, then the promises were not kept, and Jesus cannot therefore be Lord of heaven and earth. The good news is, however, that He has kept His word. He is faithful forever. And we can trust every single thing He says. Oh, that we would trust Him more!