Luke 21:7-19 (CEV)
7 Some people asked, “Teacher, when will all this happen? How can we know when these things are about to take place?”
8 Jesus replied:
Don’t be fooled by those who will come and claim to be me. They will say, “I am Christ!” and “Now is the time!” But don’t follow them. 9 When you hear about wars and riots, don’t be afraid. These things will have to happen first, but that isn’t the end.
10 Nations will go to war against one another, and kingdoms will attack each other. 11 There will be great earthquakes, and in many places people will starve to death and suffer terrible diseases. All sorts of frightening things will be seen in the sky.
12 Before all this happens, you will be arrested and punished. You will be tried in your meeting places and put in jail. Because of me you will be placed on trial before kings and governors. 13 But this will be your chance to tell about your faith.
14 Don’t worry about what you will say to defend yourselves. 15 I will give you the wisdom to know what to say. None of your enemies will be able to oppose you or to say that you are wrong. 16 You will be betrayed by your own parents, brothers, family, and friends. Some of you will even be killed. 17 Because of me, you will be hated by everyone. 18 But don’t worry! 19 You will be saved by being faithful to me.
Speaking Up, Stepping Up, Showing Up
The last year has been full of things that in general seem to leave us afraid.
“Wars and riots” are not simply abstract concepts, they are part of our everyday reality.
A hurricane in the Dominican Republic, an earthquake in Mexico, a monsoon in Bangladesh, and a mudslide in Columbia were just the top four natural disasters to hit the world last year.
Famine grips South Sudan, putting 20 million people at risk of starving to death.
And of course there have been meteorites and a solar eclipse just to round out the events.
And the truth is, it’s easy to look at all of these things that are happening around us and get dragged down by fear. I’ve had more than one person post things this year on social media telling me that because such-and-such is happening it means it’s the end of the world.
But as a historian, I don’t buy it. I know these things have happened – and far worse – many times over in the last 2000 years, and will likely happen again. They are catastrophic (in that they create sudden and great damage and suffering) and possibly even apocalyptic (in that it uncovers a truth that we might have previously been unable to see) but they do not, in and of themselves, mean the end is here.
Furthermore, as a follower of Jesus I think that his words here today tell us that in the face of even this level of disaster and suffering, we don’t need to be afraid.
Instead, Jesus seems to be calling us to step up – to show up – and to do so with love.
It’s like he’s saying, “when you see everything going to hell in a hand-basket around you – that’s the time to up your love-game”.
And all the things that hold us back from speaking up and stepping up and showing up? Apparently we’re not supposed to worry about that. Apparently we’re not supposed to worry about defending ourselves, or about knowing how to handle the brand new situations we find ourselves in.
Apparently we’re simply supposed to show up and trust that this love-in-action is what brings about a world that’s closer and closer to being the way God intended for it to be.
- What events have left you feeling rocked this past year?
- What are you currently afraid of?
- How can you speak up and step up and show up in love around these situations?
- The ‘you’ in this passage is plural – the idea is that we do this love-in-action in community – never by ourselves. Who could you connect with to start speaking up and stepping up and showing up together?