Roger's Postings

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Luke 21:5-19       Watch out that you are not deceived!!  17/11/13

 Some of his disciples were remarking about how the temple was adorned with beautiful stones and with gifts dedicated to God. But Jesus said, “As for what you see here, the time will come when not one stone will be left on another; every one of them will be thrown down.”
“Teacher,” they asked, “when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?”
He replied: “Watch out that you are not deceived. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened. These things must happen first, but the end will not come right away.”
10 Then he said to them: “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. 11 There will be great earthquakes, famines and pestilences in various places, and fearful events and great signs from heaven.
12 “But before all this, they will seize you and persecute you. They will hand you over to synagogues and put you in prison, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. 13 And so you will bear testimony to me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life.

 “Look! Look at the magnificent structures of our society! Look at the wonders of our modern technology and the achievements of mankind. Look at what our money has been able to buy us. Marvel at all the great things we have around us; for we have almost got it all. And with what we are capable of; think of what the possibilities for the future are. We are on the right track to a successful and positive future.”

 Yes, this is the attitude of many in our society today. More and more our attention is being diverted to look at the things that we have and do: and to place great importance and store on them. We only have to think of how our society has placed so much emphasis on money and the economics of everything; as well as, on keeping up with the Jones, by having a bigger and better house, car or whatever. We also have great importance placed on the achievements of medicine in alleviating our illnesses and creating eternal youth.

 The more that we look to these kinds of things around us, the more we begin to think that these things will help us to stand up to anything: that they will be there forever and give us all that we want from life: In fact, even to think, that they are what life is really all about.

 But if we honestly look at the situation, we can readily see that this might not in fact be the case. This then makes us a little cynical about some the structures of our society that try to promise us much, but more often than not, because they are just too great, we shrug our shoulders and put up with almost anything. But at the same time we find ourselves putting more time and effort into thinking, talking and being involved in these areas, than into that which is most important of all.

  How often don't we put our involvement in our spiritual life and our Church second to many of these other things? Now here I don't need to point to those who are not here today, for we all have a problem in this area: we all give too much importance to the things that we see around us; rather than to our Lord Jesus and the things of his kingdom. We all see and want to focus, on ourselves and our world around us, as being the centre figure of life, rather than our Lord.

 It is here that we need to consider carefully what Jesus has to say in response to this sort of thinking. To all who look to the magnificent structures and think that they are what life is all about; and that they are what gives us our security and everything we want: Jesus says; ‘Don't be so stupid! They will all be thrown down sooner or later. They all have their place and time; but they will all come to an end also. There is no point putting all your effort and trust in what you see around you, because it won't last. None of these, so called, great structures are able to help in the long term: the big picture. They can not give that which is most necessary of all.’

 Jesus also went on to say that we should not be deceived by all those out there who claim to have all the answers. Even this ‘new global world order’ which is touted as being able to bring lasting peace to our world, will not fulfil its promise. People again and again are coming forward and suggesting that if we can get our democratic process and economics right, that this is where it is all at. But Jesus says, 'nation will continue to rise against nation,' but do not be alarmed by that. This earth that seems so stable; remember that it produces it's earthquakes, famines and typhoons, its droughts, floods and fires. And as for its great legal system, just look at how it is also destroying our society. Even family relationships are no guarantee of safety and permanence any more.
No, as good and as useful as all of those things are, we are not to put all our effort or trust in them; because they are not lasting and are liable to let us down when we need them most. The fact that we constantly have problems and difficulties with finances, technology, medicines and every other area, is a constant reminder that they will all come to an end. None of them, in the final analysis, can help us to gain what we really need and which is truly important. Remember no matter how rich or poor, young or old, or what your standing is in society, we all will still face death; and all will have to stand before the judgement seat of God.

 Jesus is very clear about the fact that all that we see around us will come to an end. Nothing is surer. Yes, he says that we don’t know when it will be. But it will happen. The fact that we still have nation rising against nation, as well as earthquakes and typhoons, droughts floods and fires; they are all signs that the end is coming: no matter how clever we might think we are.

 That being the case we need to be very clear in our own minds as to where we place our trust for this life and the next. If it is in our magnificent structures and the things of this world, then we are in for a rude shock when all of this comes to an end. However we as Christians are continually encouraged to shift our focus to Jesus Christ and his death on the cross.

 There in the Good News of the forgiveness of all of our sins and the assurance of eternal life, that has been made possible through his life, death and resurrection, we now have every good reason to look to him. We can now place our trust in him and know that in him and the crude structure of the cross, there is every good in store for us.

 Knowing that through our baptism we have been cleansed and united with Christ and his death and resurrection we can now have the assurance that we are a part of that which is true and lasting. In Christ then we do have great confidence in the future. Not because of our magnificent structures, but because of Christ and the cross. So whether we have much or little, earthquake or ease, war or peace, feast or famine, life or death, we now have that sure certainty that nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

 So now we can get on with life with hope and confidence. Even when our earthly structures fail us, we can continue to look to Jesus Christ and give him the glory and honour that he deserves. Because we accept, believe and trust in this Good News, we will put first things first. We will stand firm to the end and not allow other things to distract and deceive us.

 Also because we now trust Jesus and his death on the cross as being the centre of what life is all about, we will then look outward to the people around about us. We will seek to assist those around us who have been let down by this sinful world of ours. We will help them to see that there is much more to life than those shallow structures that are here today and gone tomorrow. We will help them to know what Jesus Christ has done for them through his life, death and resurrection.

 Yes Jesus Christ will surely now be the centre and focus of our lives. He is the one that we look to and rely on, as we go about our daily lives. The challenge however, is to live in accord with this faith each and every day, in the face of a world that looks elsewhere for it security and hope. Knowing that the Lord Jesus is the only way to what is truly lasting, valuable and important, we will look to him and his help at every opportunity.

 As much as we want to, and do, get involved in these other aspects of life, we surely are now determined to set time aside for our Lord and our worship, devotion and study of what he has for us. We will heed what Jesus said at the end of this reading: Stand firm, and you will win life, and so not to take our Christian life so casually. Surely we will seek to do all we can to live as our Lord would have us; having in mind that which is truly lasting and valuable. So let us go from here and continue to focus our hearts, minds and lives on him who is truly important and magnificent, even if humble and hanging on a cross.

 To him again then, be all glory and honour, now and always.  AMEN

 Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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