As I am thinking of what to write today I am still reeling from the news on the earthquake in Syria and Turkey. We have young friends who are working in that area with refugees and it is heart wrenching to know that the devastation is hitting on top of so much conflict and poverty in that area.
I also think of recent events in the news here in America of so much violence and it makes the heart heavy. I am reminded of the verses that speak of the end time and the confusion that will abound and it is hard to say that things have always been bad. They haven’t been this bad at once in so many places and we can’t deny it.
You will hear of wars and rumors and of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.
There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All of these are the beginning of birth pains.
Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.
At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
Because of the increase in wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.
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: 6-14
I remember Beth Moore teaching once that while all of these things have happened in the past history of the world at various times, as we near the end of this world as we know it; these events will happen with greater frequency and intensity.
Sure we know more than past generations because of the internet sending out news from every corner of the globe, but these are times that have no comparison in history.
But notice what we are to do in these times:
- See to it that you are not alarmed.
- Hatred and persecution aimed at you because you belong to Christ is to be expected.
- Hold fast to the faith no matter what.
- Beware of false prophets – they will not line up with Scripture even if they seem to be close to it.
- There will be a temptation for your love to grow cold…stand firm.
- Share the gospel – be part of this going out into the world.
Russ and I started watching The Chosen this weekend. We had attempted it once before and gave up because the accents were difficult at times to decipher. We muscled through this time and while we sometimes miss a bit of the dialogue of certain characters, we are well into Season 1.
If you are not familiar with it, it is a series that puts some creative story lines in to fill out what we know of Jesus through the four Gospels. So far it sticks to Scripture where it needs to and the additional stories around what we are given in God’s Word does not detract from the truth of the Gospels.
I want to share with you one thing that jumped out at me from the episode where Peter and Andrew are fishing and Jesus gives them the catch of their career.
As Peter and Andrew/James and John and their father return from a disappointing night of fishing with nothing to show for it, Jesus is teaching a crowd on the shore. He asks if he can borrow their boat to help with the amplification of his voice using the natural sound system of water and a hill.
He tells the crowd one more story and then he turns to address Peter, who he calls his “new friend.”
He proceeds to tell Peter to cast his net one more time and of course we know the story. The net is so full of fish they need all the help they can get to fill two boats with the catch. Jesus calls the fisherman to follow Him and promises that they will become fishers of men.
The parable he taught from the boat was that the Kingdom of God is like a fisherman who catches a load of fish. He brings them to shore and sorts them. The good ones that can be used are put in barrels and the bad ones are thrown away.
As Peter later questions Jesus about the quality of people He is calling and points out that he is not exactly a prime candidate for ministry himself, Jesus says something like – Did you listen to the story I told? A fisherman gathers a load of fish, and then sorts them. You just gather and I will worry about sorting them out.
It makes me think about the passage above and the turmoil of the world right now. I think about how easily I could fear, worry and also shut off my heart because of the overwhelm. I also think how it is tempting to judge who is right and who is wrong, who is sincere and who can’t be trusted. How easy it is to begin to harden the heart in the overwhelm of so many voices.
But every moment of compassion; every time we let our hearts break for the hurt and pain in others lives, every time we put down the walls of trying to figure out who is on our side or their side or whatever…we are keeping ourselves open to share the gospel – the good news of how repentance brings the Kingdom.
We were saved by grace and we want to continue to share that story of good news to others. We want to throw those nets out daily, sharing the good news and hope of the Gospel – that the Kingdom has come and for those who receive the forgiveness of Christ there is a joy as we wait for His return.
And we don’t have to worry about the catch. Jesus said that is His department in all of this.
So let us weep and pray as we watch mothers bury their children and investigations loom over errant weather balloons, classified documents and questionable police practices.
Let us weep and pray as rubble is pushed aside and bodies are retrieved in war torn countries.
Let us weep and pray for the confused, the lonely, the anxious, the addicted, the marginalized, the wealthy who are building bigger barns and have no idea the number of their days.
Let’s not let our hearts grow cold.
Let’s view the world around us as potential fish for the kingdom and leave the sorting to Jesus.
Let’s love and care and encourage and throw nets out every day.
If He called you by name, follow Him.
He is faithful.