Tuesday, July 17th. Mark 13:14-23

But when you see the desolating sacrilege set up where it ought not to be (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains; the one on the housetop must not go down or enter the house to take anything away; the one in the field must not turn back to get a coat. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing infants in those days! Pray that it may not be in winter. For in those days there will be suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, no, and never will be. And if the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he has cut short those days. And if anyone says to you at that time, ‘Look! Here is the Messiah!’ or ‘Look! There he is!’ —do not believe it. False messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce signs and omens, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be alert; I have already told you everything. Mark 13:14-23

We seem a long way removed from a time when it was dangerous to be a person of faith. Not so in its earliest days. In the beginning, a person who believed Jesus to be the promised Messiah could be cut off from family and friends, ostracized, even demonized. It could be dangerous.

It still is like that is some parts of the world. We hear stories of missionaries who are captured and killed. Stories of people in danger after converting to Christianity. Stories of clandestine Christian gatherings in China and the Middle East.

Not so much for most of us.

For most of us, somewhere along the line a new formula emerged. At some point “church = suffering” became “church = my personal comfort”. Not just personal comfort with beautiful buildings, padded seats, air conditioning, state of the art sound systems but psychic comfort as well – a sort of unconscious cosmic conspiracy where we don’t talk about or mention things in church or church circles that are uncomfortable or challenging of controversial.

Well…at least not for us….

It actually has become fashionable in many church circles to say all sorts of challenging, uncomfortable or controversial things….as long as they are about someone else. As long as we what say is politically correct in our own circles, our own tribe. Thus it is that pastors of “conservative congregations” can take a weekly shot at gay marriage or the government and everybody nods and grimaces and agrees. And pastors of “liberal churches” can take a weekly shot against the conservatives and their folks do the same.

After all, creating a common enemy is a quick and easy way to build community. It always feels good to be “us” when we can feel self righteously superior to “them”.

But then Jesus whispers in the ears of all who are willing to hear – “Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you.” “What will it count if you gain the whole world but lose your soul.” “Woman, where are your persecutors? Go and sin no more.” “The poor you will always have with you. What she has done will be remembered forever.” “When the Son of Man is lifted up he will draw all people to himself.”

So it is that Jesus upsets the apple carts of the comfortable…and brings continual encouragement to the suffering and oppressed.

Maybe it is time that we worry far less about our own comfort and more about our calling. Maybe it is time that we realize that the ideas and causes and real life human situations around us that make us feel scared and uncomfortable are precisely the doors through which faith would have us walk.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, we know there are places where it is dangerous to be named among your children, and yet we know that you are still present in such places through the courage and faithfulness of those who stand up for you anyway. In our comfortable lives, we shy away from that which we find scary and uncomfortable. Forgive us. Set us free. So we pray that you bring challenges into our lives and that you fill us with the kind of faith that faces them with courage, determination, and compassion. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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3 Responses to “Tuesday, July 17th. Mark 13:14-23”

  1. Forrest Meyer Says:

    Wondeful devotion and prayer today. Really spoke to me. Thank you.

  2. Sharon Boyd Says:

    Again…thank you! God bless you as you bless me!

  3. Anonymous Says:

    The scary is exactly what all people seek to avoid. Mental illness and developmental disability is a scary subject because its hard to understand, and its hard to predict how it will manifest itself. Our Illinois county’s largest and oldest mental health agency just collapsed because the state cut funding. The mother of a profoundly disabled 19 year old girl, with nowhere else to turn for help, and with the express assistance of her church, identified the state of Tennessee as the state with the best record of caring for developmentally disabled people, and it’s in the bible belt so the thinking was somebody would take her in. So mom drives hundreds of miles and drops her daughter off at a restaurant and she wanders over to a bar, where people take her in and try to figure out who she is. The state is called and 10 days later they find her mother, who signs papers saying she can no longer care for her daughter. Luckily, the mom and the church were right; Tennessee is taking the girl in. But in the aftermath, we learn that there are 21000 developmentally disabled adults on a waiting list for a group home and there are only slots for 993. I am so ashamed of our state and our people, and it makes me sad for these folks. Why can’t we take care of our people the way Tennessee does? Was there nothing else this woman’s church could do to help? It is very discouraging to see failure to care for our weakest members on such a colossal scale; government, school, church and family.

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