December 26, 2012
Dear brothers and sisters,
I am taking the good news today from Matthew 24:3-14.
As he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately and said, “Tell us, when will this happen, and what sign will there be of your coming, and of the end of the age?” Jesus said to them in reply, “See that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, saying ‘I am the Messiah,’ and they will deceive many. You will hear of wars and reports of wars; see that you are not alarmed, for these things must happen, but it will not yet be the end. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be famines and earthquakes from place to place. All these are the beginning of the labor pains. Then they will hand you over to persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of my name. And then many will be led into sin; they will betray and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and deceive many; and because of the increase of evildoing, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who perseveres to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.”
The news daily brings reports of horrific calamities — violence of man against man, sometimes in God’s name. It can be dispiriting. i think that’s what Jesus is warning me against, to not fall prey to discouragement, to cynicism, to loss of faith. The question that inevitably forces to mind is, “Where was God? How could He let such horrible things happen to innocents?”
In our world that is much more crowded than in Jesus’ time and with news instantaneously reported, it does seem that evildoing is increasing. Hard to know for sure. We can at least know that evil and the violence that it spawns continues unabated. It wears me down little by little, erodes my sense of hope and optimism. The danger that Jesus warns of is turning my back on God, allowing my love of Him and faith in His love and mercy to wane and grow cold.
In the face of this unrelenting evil, Jesus tells me to persevere. It’s a grim battle and he needs every soldier to stand up and fight back against evil. Fight back the despair and hopelessness, fight back the inclination to blame God for His inattention or inaction, fight back the desire to surrender to evil.
The will and energy to do so is derived from listening to and acting upon his gospel, his good news. Therein lies salvation. In loving one another, in demanding justice for all, in living out of a heart of compassion for each other. The end of this age of evildoing will come to an end. It may be on earth or it may be in God’s heavenly kingdom. God’s love will win out and I will be saved if I persevere through all these travails if I cling to His love and serve as an instrument for His love. In that way I can be a sign of his coming.