Have you ever had to take an unpopular position amidst a group of people during a debate? It can be uncomfortable to say the least. Being the lone holdout when a group is making a decision that you feel in your gut is wrong can cause your blood pressure to rise and your palms to sweat. Do you speak out? Do you risk rejection and embarrassment? Do you make your case and work to persuade them to your side?
Some people live for those moments while the rest of us run for the hills. If you are in the latter group, you are in good company.
In the 21st chapter of Luke, Jesus instructed his disciples to be ready to make the case for him against the masses who will reject and disown them for their beliefs. He contends that their parents, friends, and relatives will reject, abuse, and even execute some of them for believing that he is Messiah. He uses the destruction of the temple, which will happen 40 years after his death, as a place to begin the conversation:
Luke 21 (Common English Bible)
5 Some people were talking about the temple, how it was decorated with beautiful stones and ornaments dedicated to God. Jesus said, 6 “As for the things you are admiring, the time is coming when not even one stone will be left upon another. All will be demolished.”
7 They asked him, “Teacher, when will these things happen? What sign will show that these things are about to happen?”
This is a good reminder to us today to not put our faith or hope in things that are temporal. Our beautiful, bejeweled sanctuaries will all fall away. When we focus our time, resources, and energy into places and things, we betray our mission on earth. Time and monies are better spent making disciples than making places. Moth and rust corrupt buildings but building a community of Jesus followers lasts forever. Where is your church deploying its resources?
8 Jesus said, “Watch out that you aren’t deceived. Many will come in my name, saying, ‘I’m the one!’ and ‘It’s time!’ Don’t follow them. 9 When you hear of wars and rebellions, don’t be alarmed. These things must happen first, but the end won’t happen immediately.”
After Jesus died, the disciples and the new church they formed were in great peril. Jerusalem was besieged by hostile forces and each disciple died an ignominious death because they chose to make the case for Christ-crucified. Could you be that bold in a world that rejected him?
10 Then Jesus said to them, “Nations and kingdoms will fight against each other. 11 There will be great earthquakes and wide-scale food shortages and epidemics. There will also be terrifying sights and great signs in the sky.12 But before all this occurs, they will take you into custody and harass you because of your faith. They will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name.13 This will provide you with an opportunity to testify. 14 Make up your minds not to prepare your defense in advance. 15 I’ll give you words and wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to counter or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed by your parents, brothers and sisters, relatives, and friends. They will execute some of you. 17 Everyone will hate you because of my name. 18 Still, not a hair on your heads will be lost. 19 By holding fast, you will gain your lives.
Some may read this today and conclude that we are in the end-times based on Jesus’ prophecy. What do you think?
In any case, remember that we are called to hold fast to our beliefs and stand firm on the word of God. In the end, when it all falls away, this will be the only thing that lasts. By holding fast, you will gain your life. Thanks be to God!
Hold Fast by Michelle Robertson