Faith and Fortitude
“. . . you do not know when the appointed time . . .” Mark 13:33
When will Jesus return? The early Christians were warned against speculating about a schedule or date for the end of the world. They were warned not to listen to those who claimed to know the day or time.
That is what preoccupation does, it leads one astray from the primary task and duty of following Jesus. It leads one from faithful pursuit of discipleship, to the fruitless search of focusing on an unknown timetable. If all the attention that has focused on the last things had been given to the first things, the kingdom would have been enormously increased.
Today, there are many who know the last word about everything and the first word about nothing. The last things must never take priority over the first things of Jesus; love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Worrying and wondering about end-time signs and schedules can take our focus off the needs of others.
Jesus utters these startling words directly to the disciples, “Be on guard yourself.” It’s a needed warning in a time of crisis. Even now, the individual Christian stands surrounded by a panorama of wars and rumors of war, of commotion and catastrophe. There is always great danger that, in a time of adversity, the responsibility of the individual disciple will be minimized.
During the turbulent days of persecution vividly described here in this chapter of Mark, what counted was the faith and fortitude of those who were vigilant, alert and on guard. It was their faith that made possible the survival of Christianity.
We are constantly tempted to live in a spirit of defeat, “What difference can one life make anyway?” This is no time to quit. We still need the sustaining faith of His followers, who pose a fierce fidelity to God, that makes an infinite and eternal difference. It takes significant faith to make a significant impact. Any hope of a redeemed world lies in those who are courageous enough to live the priorities of Jesus.
Make today count for eternity.