This is post #19 of a series entitled RELIGION OR RELATIONSHIP: Five Days that Define Our Call in Christ. We hope you’ll enjoy this series of 27 podcasts and blogs that focuses a bit deeper on the first five days of what we now call Holy Week. Using the Gospel text found in Matthew 21 through 25, we explore the major differences between organized religion and true relationship with Christ. Practical sessions that give us Jesus’ view of spirituality as compared to the religiousness found in so many people today. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
Click here to listen to the podcast version of this blog!
Today’s Lectio Divina: “They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry My name. And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other’s throat, everyone hating each other. In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes. Staying with it—that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be saved. All during this time, the good news—the Message of the Kingdom—will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come.” Matthew 24: 9-14 (MsgB)
As someone who has lived through the turbulent 60’s, the tumultuous 70’s, the trying 80’s, the troubled 90’s, and now, well into the terrifying 2000’s, it’s worth noting that each decade has had its share of trouble. From the Vietnam War, to the assassination of presidents and world leaders, to increasing gun violence in our schools and city streets, to 9/11 and the war on terror, one thought has always been in the back of my mind…
“Lord Jesus, is this the End of Days?”
Back in the 1970’s, Hal Lindsey wrote a best-seller called, The Late, Great Planet Earth. And as we discussed last time, it seems that every few years or so another well-meaning Christian publishes a doom-n-gloom book that predicts the end of the world, the rapture, the immediate return of Jesus, and/or all of the above. And it’s not just Christians who use fear tactics to get our attention. Voices warning of global warming, world over-population, and economic disaster grab for our attention on a daily basis.
So, what’s a person to do?
Once again, Jesus of Nazareth seems to be the only voice with any expertise behind it. A voice that calls through the ages. A voice of reason in midst of the raging storm.
When all hell breaks loose, with things going from bad to worse, dog-eat-dog, with everyone at each other’s throat, everyone hating each other, Jesus gives us one piece of good advice and wise counsel:
Stay with it. Stay with it to the end.
Author Eugene Peterson called this “staying with it”…
Long obedience in the same direction.
One pastor friend of mine defines Jesus’ “staying with it” as…
Love God. Love people. Repeat process.
You see, following Christ is not rocket science.
In hard times and in good times, the discipleship process is still the same…
I know some of you with sensitive ears won’t appreciate this story, but I think it makes the best point here, so here goes. My wife and I have been in pastoral ministry for 30+ years. Pastoring a church can be a lot like herding cats. Except with cats, you occasionally hear them gently purr at you after you feed them! :0)
Suffice to say that the ability to “stay with it” is one of the leadership traits that’s much needed in order to walk in faith with Jesus and His people. One “earthy” expression we often use when talking with discouraged pastors who are ready to throw in the tool is this phrase:
Deep Sh**t. Don’t Quit.
Now, once again, I apologize profusely to those folks who I’ve just offended with my potty mouth, but guys and gals, I really believe it’s this type of raw honesty Jesus must have used with His friends here in today’s text in Matthew 24. You see, this thing called life isn’t a stroll in the park. It can get pretty intense at times. Pretty down and dirty.
So, the next time the crap hits the fan, and you look up to heaven and inquire of the Master…
Jesus, is this the end of days?
My true sense is that blessed are those of us who decide to keep the faith, keep believing in God’s truth, keep loving when no one else loves, keep giving when no one else gives, and keep showing up long after everyone else disappears.
My Prayer: Jesus, thank You for the harsh reminder that we followers of Christ can be in for some tough times ahead. While I don’t like that news, I do appreciate the fact that You are crystal clear on how I’m to respond when things around me seem destined for failure. Holy Spirit, please indwell me and empower me to “stay with it to the end.” Remind me when times are tough that it’s my faithfulness to Jesus and His Word that keeps me on the road to salvation and eternal life. For Your Name’s sake. Amen.
My Questions to Ponder: Where and how am I tempted to let my heart grow cold? How have the troubles of this world worn me down so that I’m tempted to throw in the towel? What will it look like for me to hold my ground in Jesus, standing firm with Him, even when others around me decide to walk away? What does “staying with it to the end” look like for me today?
So, what are you hearing from Jesus as we take this journey into the first 5 Days of Holy Week?
Religion or Relationship: Five Days that Define Our Call in Christ.
A 27-session Lenten blog series from Matthew’s Holy Week Gospel.
Throughout the Lenten season (Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday), you and I will take a deeper look at Matthew 21-25. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our blog series home page for ease of use.
If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!
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