Mark 13:1-13; 1 Kings 6; Hosea 8
I write other kinds of things than devotionals. My problem is that nothing else is ready for publication yet. I have a lot of editing to do. One of the things I do to learn is join with other groups of writers in person or online. One of the writers whose writing I enjoy has made it a habit to motivate other writers. Just about every day he writes something that is designed to encourage other readers. He calls them his “motivates.” In these motivates, he shares his struggles and his victories. He shares what he’s learned from the struggles. He reminds his “motivates” readers how much he appreciates them. He is young, but he encourages old men like me in my writing.
This writer has been nominated for prestigious awards, and has been able to work with his heroes in the craft, but he still remembers and cares for all the other struggling writers out there. When you ask him what the future holds, he encourages others to make that future by doing the work. When Jesus was asked about the future by disciples who still didn’t get it, and were hoping to hear about how they would rule in the messianic kingdom, He spoke words of warning. “And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Mark 13:10-13)
As Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple, the disciples wanted to know when that would happen. Perhaps they figured it would happen in the battle when the Messiah would overthrow the Romans. They wanted a day and a time for the events that would mean the end of life as they knew it: life under Roman occupation. The words of Jesus probably didn’t motivate them much. They were a warning and a command. 1) You will preach the good news to all nations. (What? This isn’t going to be just an overthrow of the Romans?) 2) You will be arrested for preaching the gospel. Depend on the Holy Spirit to speak for you. (Wait. I don’t think I like this “being arrested” thing. Are you sure you understand what the Messiah’s supposed to do?) 3) Your family will betray you. (Not my loving family!) 4) Everyone will hate you because of me. (This isn’t what I signed up for, Jesus. Come on, seriously?)
Most followers of Christ would agree that the gospel should be preached to all nations – but someone else should be doing it. We won’t even talk to our neighbors about Christ. We can’t imagine being arrested for proclaiming the gospel – if anyone does anything that infringes on our liberty to share about Jesus, we call the lawyers. Not that we’re sharing. My family wouldn’t betray me, they love me…well, there is that cousin and my brother has gotten a little strange lately. And everyone hating me? Of course not. I’ve read those books on how to win friends and influence people. I do a good job of winning friends, although I may be a little weak in the influencing others department. In truth, in spite of all the objections Americans may make because we have great freedoms, what Jesus predicted is happening around the world. In many countries, proclaiming Christ can get you a long prison sentence, if not death. Many who come to Christ in those countries are shunned and betrayed by their families. Even today, if you want hatred, preach the truth about Jesus Christ. The warnings Jesus gave are really true. Perhaps my professor was right: “The problem with Christians is that no one wants to kill them anymore.”
Oh Lord, let me be faithful to Your call to proclaim Your grace, even if it leads to death.