9 Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. [Matthew 24/NIV]
The bad news: if you think things are bad now, just wait! The good news: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are walking with us, and through it all, we receive power to persevere unto paradise, standing firm in that Power.
The spiritual battle is escalating. That much is obvious. Atrocities around the world are perpetrated daily. Murder rates, war, terrorism, crime, trafficking, slavery, kidnapping, abuse, torture, mass killings: all on the rise. The mass psychology of selfish indulgence makes sin recreational but it’s still despicable.
To avoid the pain, the fear and the turmoil, many people retreat into virtual worlds, imaginary parallel universes, video games, TV shows, movies, robots, orgies. Others numb themselves with drugs and alcohol. Some simply come unglued, adding to the mayhem. Never in the history of humanity has mass hysteria combined with seething hatred to form such a black cloud of violence around the entire world. We’ve achieved the ability to slander, gossip and condemn on a global scale with the click of a mouse. The public meltdown has become a spectator sport: verbal violence, genocidal.
In the middle of the storm, the Master stands urging, “Do not be afraid. Peace to you.” We tend to forget his power to command the wind, and the waves, indeed, the entire universe. There is nothing too difficult for Him.
So our duty as his disciples is clear: stand firm, the witness is everything.
When people despitefully use us, what is His command? Pray for them.
When threatened with death, He commands: love your enemies.
If falsely accused, He says turn the other cheek, love those who condemn you. Love the brethren in the unity of the Spirit. Let your light shine.
Faced with crucifixion, He prayed, He turned the other cheek, He loved his enemies, He stood firm!
“For the joy set before Him, He endured the Cross.”
That joy is alive because out of His great love for us, we will be in heaven someday. Basking in that truth ought to go a long way toward making sure our love does not grow cold.
In the end, all we need is to ask Him to give us the power to obey the Two Great Commandments as we go about the business of the Great Commission.
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, sitting down at the right hand of the Father. 3 Consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. [Hebrews 12]
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