“But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where he ought not to be (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let the one who is on the housetop not go down, nor enter his house, to take anything out, 16 and let the one who is in the field not turn back to take his cloak. 17 And alas for women who are pregnant and for those who are nursing infants in those days! 18 Pray that it may not happen in winter. 19 For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will be. 20 And if the Lord had not cut short the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he shortened the days. 21 And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. 23 But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand. – Mark 13:14-23
I’m trying to get my mind around how I actually do relate to the impending end of the world. I resonate much more with Luther’s plant a tree mentality than with the crazed sell all your possessions and wait for Jesus with me on a hillside” folks. But I wonder if I don’t need a dose of “be on your guard…” which, thankfully, Jesus supplies here in this text.
If I were to identify that for which I need to be on guard, it would be those things which offer false hopes particular to my weaknesses and places of anxiety. I could too easily be more ready to cut corners in an effort to get something done rather than making certain all things are in order. I might be willing to gloss over the details of a deal rather than niggle out every little piece of information to make certain all is in order. I am all too easily tempted to look to the urgencies of the latest technical gadget, my financial well-being, or my good standing in the eyes of others as more important than the enduring value of faith in Christ.
Don’t get me wrong: when push comes to shove, I will stay with Christ. I’m sure I’ll be better than Peter when questioned in the courtyard about his allegiance to Jesus! Or maybe not. Truth is, I need a Savior; I will not get it all right all the time. But all those false christs and false prophets will not stand the test of time. I thank God that Jesus has and does stand through the ages with hope and life, forgiveness and salvation.
I’m taking some vacation time this week to be with family. I’m thinking about how I will apply these challenging words and realities Jesus speaks of to our fun trips and granddad time. Others will face difficult challenges, or the daily grind of the freeway commute. In any case we all can pray that these moments given to reflection and self-examination will help us not to be distracted – whether we make some memories and enjoy the blessings of life and love together or face the ebb and flow of daily life.