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When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains. Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back--whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: `Watch!' (Mark 13:7-8, 35-37)
It's not the first time that the United States has gone to war, and it's probably not going to be the last. It is also not the first time that Christians have wondered if this is a sign that the end of the world is coming soon. Most likely, people have been wondering about the "end times" for a long time.
Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with being curious about global devastation, because that's kind of a big deal. In fact, the disciples themselves questioned Jesus about His return on more than one occasion. It seems as though anytime world conflicts arise and disaster occurs, people start thinking about apocalyptic (i.e. "end of days") subject matter more frequently, sometimes forgetting that there is a danger in focusing too much on potential future events.
In today's passage, Jesus is clearly telling us two things that are key in maintaining balance in our perspective of the forthcoming days.
First- be careful that you don't misinterpret world events as a sure indication that Christ is coming back soon. Jesus specifically tells us "when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains." His point is that wars, natural disasters, and famine are the very things that should NOT alarm us. For some reason, every time these things happen on a global scale, hundreds of preachers, teachers, and authors start pointing out signs and picking out dates. To be sure, these events are alarming as far as political and international ramifications- but they should not put us in a frantic, rapture-packing mode. If it takes a war and/or a disaster to get you concerned about Christ's return, then you've got your head in the wrong clouds. In the words of one preacher: "we should live as though Christ died on the cross yesterday, rose from the grave this morning, and is coming back tomorrow".
Second- be careful not to get too attached to this life. Remember that planet earth is not our home, we are 'strangers and aliens' in this world (I Peter 2:11). As such, we need to hold loosely to our possessions and dreams, and cling tightly to everything that helps prepare us for our journey back home. When we get overly attached to our temporary lives filled with temporary things, we tend to "fall asleep" spiritually, and that's a bad thing! Jesus commands us to attend to the fact that He could return at any moment, so we had better be awake and alert.
So what do all the recent events mean in regards to the end of the world? Nothing: Jesus' return will be determined by the predetermined will of the Father, and not by the premeditated acts of terrorists. Don't let media headlines and hourly reports distract you from God's word and hourly prayer.
Here's a suggestion- from this day forward, wear a watch. Every time you begin to get fearful of the future or attached to the present, check the time. When you see what time it is, let that remind you that all the future is in the Father's hands. He is too powerful to let anything out of His control, too wise to make a mistake, and too loving to let evil continue forever.
Dare 2 Share is a church assisting ministry that provides resources for youth leaders and equips teens to relationally and relentlessly reach their generation for Christ. Over 1,400 of these resources are provided completely FREE! D2S also conducts nationwide youth evangelism training conferences. The events are structured for students in junior high and high school, ranging from 12 to 18 years old. Regardless of gender or denomination, D2S teaches from a Christian perspective. D2S is based in Denver, Colorado and has impacted the lives of more than 300,000 teens since 1991.
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