Wars and rumors of war

November 18, 2018


And Jesus said, “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars…”

This morning we have a text in which Jesus references the beginning of apocalyptic times or as we sometimes refer to them, “the end times”.

In our day and age, we seem to be fascinated with a cataclysmic end of the world as we know it, with the idea of the apocalypse, this fascination is easily seen by walking into almost any bookstore.  There are authors who are making millions of dollars by writing about the end of the age, both with works of non-fiction as well as fiction.  There was the fictional “Left Behind” series that seemed to spawn a publishing boom of numerous novels concerning the end times.  And I don’t know how many times that I’ve turned on the T.V., usually later at night and come across some program dealing with apocalyptic prophecies and what they might portend.

I think this is so fascinating to people today for a few reasons.

One, is that the Bible shares prophecies and warnings of the coming end times in a number of places, most descriptively in the books of Daniel, the Gospels and of course, Revelation.  We have read one of those prophecies today.  Thus, Christian believers wonder and worry concerning the timing, the severity and most of all their own readiness for these events.

There are also the events of the past years that have seemed to point to greater chaos in the world.  From 9/11 in America to July 22nd in Norway, to catastrophic tsunamis and terrible wild fires, to wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen, to devastating earthquakes and hurricanes, if a person wants, he or she could see possible signs of the apocalypse all around.

And still another reason for people’s fascination with the end times is the “scare factor” of these prophesied times of tribulation.  No one wants to suffer, and yet folks wonder about such things as, false messiahs, anti-christs and the abomination.  And because they wonder at the prophesies they attempt to interpret them and then discern within their own world experience that the foretold events are happening right now.

I have to admit, it can be fascinating to think about, and wonder upon, and yet, I believe it can be a bit dangerous too.  Dangerous you ask, how so?

Well, I think all of this concentration upon what might happen, and when and to who starts to become an end in itself to people.  Certain individuals become consumed with trying to “read” the end times and forget about the present times, in reality, the only time that really counts.  Today, the present times are life.

And that is why I believe that we have to take Jesus’ words  seriously when he said, “But nobody knows when that day or hour will come, not the angels in heaven and not the Son. Only the Father knows.”

In other words Jesus is reminding his listeners, including us, that what is important is not the possible future, but to concentrate upon today.  We can only live our lives in the present, we do not know what the future holds, and the past is the past.  We must live our lives today.  Today is the only day we’ve got control over, so focus upon today.

It is important to understand that Jesus didn’t speak of the end days in order that these thoughts might consume all of our time, our energy and somehow become the focus of our faith.  No, Jesus spoke of those times in order to remind us, that everyday should be lived as if it is our last.  In order that we might prepare ourselves to live in such a way that we have an effect on others by our own lives lived as God has called us to live.

What I am getting at here is that we are called to focus upon the ‘here’ and the ‘now’, and leave the ‘when’ and the ‘how’ to the Father.

Encouragement is huge.  Think about it.  We are often able to do so much more, because we have someone spurring us forward in our attempt.  It’s like running a marathon.  Now right off I have to disclose that I’ve never run one, and truthfully never care to run one.  But my mom and younger brother have each run marathons and they told me that it was when someone cheered particularly for them that their exhaustion lessened and they felt as if they had greater energy.  Whether the person cheering them forward was me, their son or brother, or some guy on the side of the road shouting, “Way to go number 433, keep it up!” the encouragement the runners heard, helped them toward their goals.

Encouragement helps in so many areas of life.  My friend Paul is a teacher, has been for a long time now, but I remember in his first year there were times when he wasn’t sure if he was doing things right, or he was down upon himself for some mistake he’d made, yet things always looked up, when the principal or some veteran teacher would give him some encouragement.  Now, as a veteran teacher he has learned to do the same for others, especially new teachers, struggling to learn their new profession.

We need people in our lives.  We need others whom are willing to stand by our side and spur us on toward greater things.

This is especially true when it regards our faith lives.  We need each other.  Jesus wasn’t constantly creating community for the fun of it.  He didn’t teach about relationship so that we would strive to be lone rangers.  No, Jesus and the writers of the New Testament epistles knew that we needed one another to live the lives we are called to live as Christians.

This past week I spent three nights in Berlin with many of the other ELCA Lutheran pastors and leaders ministering in Europe.  A lot of what we did was to share and listen with one another about our work, and to give and receive encouragement. We shared prayer requests and prayed for one another, and promised to continue in prayer.

At the end of our three days together, I realized that we were people who had committed ourselves to spur each other, to encourage one another in our work.  Each of us leaders have committed our lives to share Christ’s love, preach his word and do good deeds through our lives, and we can do so now, with encouragement from others doing the same across Europe.

And so it is and can be even more, amongst us here at the ALC.  We need to continue to spur one another on in love and good deeds, encouraging each other in the ups and downs of life.

So my challenge to all of you is this…over the next months, think and pray about ways for us believers here at the American Lutheran Congregation to encourage one another in our lives and spur one another on to Godly love and good deeds in the lives of the world.

Christ has called us together as brothers and sisters, so let’s learn more about one another and support each other in our lives; in faith, in work, in family and in the world.  Remember living your faith today is what truly counts, let God worry about tomorrow!


Bible References

  • Psalm 16:1 - 11
  • Mark 13:1 - 8



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.