This is post #2 of a series entitled Peacemakers for the Cause of Christ – Facilitators of God’s Peace in a World Looking for Peace. We hope you’ll enjoy these 31 podcasts and blogs that focus on our great need in today’s society for peacemakers; men, women, and children who are willing to step away from all the contempt, division, and hatred, and step in toward the blessed call of being Christ-centered peacemakers for the greater glory of God. Here you’ll find very practical and biblically-sound advice on building bridges instead of walls, offering hope instead of despair. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
Click on the link below to listen to the podcast version of this blog!
Truth #1: Peacemakers Understand the Times in Which We Live.
Today’s Lectio Divina: Later as (Jesus) was sitting on Mount Olives, His disciples approached and asked Him, “Tell us, when are these things are going to happen? What will be the sign of Your coming, that the time’s up?” Jesus said, “Watch out for doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities, claiming, ‘I am Christ, the Messiah.’ They will deceive a lot of people. When reports come in of wars and rumored wars, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history; this is no sign of the end. Nation will fight nation and ruler fight ruler, over and over. Famines and earthquakes will occur in various places. This is nothing compared to what is coming. They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry My name. And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other’s throat, everyone hating each other. In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes.” Matthew 24: 3-12 (MsgB)
Let’s face it. You and I live in a violent society. A world where one minute an innocent person can be going about his or her everyday business, living a normal day, and the next minute, their world is suddenly turned upside down when another person, on a personalized mission of hatred, violently inserts them self in such a way that no one who experiences such horror will ever be the same again.
Add to that violence the fact that for many of us who are fortunate enough to escape such a personal tragedy, we read about such incidents on our smart phones, cluck our tongues, and then go back to business-as-usual, as though nothing ever occurred. All the while, the clock is ticking on our violent society, and in truth, another incidence will most likely occur somewhere in our city, our state, or our nation before the sun rises for yet another day.
For those of us who follow Jesus of Nazareth, believing Him to be our Lord and Savior, we watch these tragic events unfold before us, read our Bibles, pray our prayers, hug our children, and hope that Jesus will return soon to put an end to all this increased hatred and violence we find around us. “The Devil is working overtime,” we proclaim, “America sure needs a revival!” Sadly, it seems that many of these same Christians find more time in our busy schedules to express our on-line disdain with national politics than practical ways to simply love our neighbors who live down the street.
“Marty, stop being so critical,” you say, “Don’t you realize that there’s a movement of evil afoot, determined to snuff out every element of our Christian faith from sea to shining sea?”
Well, that might be true.
But friends, God, our Creator/King, is no stranger to these movements of hatred and darkness. Over the centuries, He’s seen it all. And from my seat on the bench, it appears that Jesus of Nazareth knew full well, way back in the first century, what would be coming down the pike for those of us who just might be living on the edge of His second coming. Just look at the Master’s prophetic insight we find in today’s passage from Matthew’s Gospel! Amazing, isn’t it?
As I see it, Jesus spells it out for us here, quite plainly. Apparently, in the midst of all the end-time hub-bub, there will be well-intentioned religious leaders who will stand up, gather a crowd, draw attention to themselves, and ultimately encourage a lot of people to pursue matters that only serve to distract and deceive us, taking our attention off those things that really matter.
Deception works like that, you know.
Most of us, as mature adults, are discerning enough to recognize a lie. But sadly, in this fallen world where not everything that glitters is gold, it’s those half-truths and half-lies that become quite problematic for those of us who are trying to remain sane in a world gone mad.
But, according to Jesus, here’s the really bad news!
In the last days before His return, rampant deceptions will be just the beginning of our troubles. Apparently, a much larger problem for us to be watching for is an overwhelming loss of love. Or, as Eugene Peterson translates it in The Message Bible:
Nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes.
The New International Version translates Jesus’ warning this way:
The love of most will grow cold.
In other words, we’ll not only be susceptible to lies and half-truths, but many will become hard-hearted, judgmental, unteachable, unkind, uncaring, non-sympathetic with little or no empathy for themselves or others. Love-less. Emotion-less, Calloused. Stone Cold Hearts standing over a Mound of Ashes that once was our love.
Arthur Brooks, Harvard University professor and author of the book, Love Your Enemies says…
We don’t have an anger problem (in America). We have a contempt problem.
You see, we’ve gone beyond simple anger and frustration when it comes to the way we view those who think, believe, and act differently from ourselves. We’ve now crossed that line and allowed our anger to be mixed with disgust.
To quote Brooks once again…
Social scientists define contempt as anger mixed with disgust. These two emotions form a toxic combination, like ammonia mixed with bleach. In the words of the nineteenth-century philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, contempt is “the unsullied conviction of the worthlessness of another.” Deriving from the Latin word contemptus, meaning “scorn,” contempt represents not merely an outburst following a moment of deep frustration with another but rather an enduring attitude of complete disdain.
An attitude of complete disdain.
Take a quick peek on Twitter, Facebook or other social media sites, and it won’t take very long to find that “attitude of complete disdain” (contempt) staring you squarely in the face. And if you’re completely honest with yourself, you’ll have to admit like me, that it’s not just others I find operating in that “attitude of complete disdain,” but, gulp…
I find myself doing it as well!
Ouch. I said it. Does that ring a bell of truth for you as well?
My Prayer: Jesus, I hear Your stern warnings and I ask for ears to hear and eyes to see. First of all, Master, protect me from buying into half-truths and half-lies. Keep me embracing Truth and nothing but the Truth. Secondly, I ask You to come near and warm my heart, keeping my love for You, my love for myself, and my love for others, not only alive but well! Holy Spirit, indwell and empower my love that it remain vibrantly alive, forever in Christ. For His Name’s sake. Amen
A Few Questions to Ponder: What half-truths and half-lies am I listening to and giving consideration in my life? Am I asking God for wise discernment in my life so that I keep my eyes and ears open for such things, not falling prey to their deception? Secondly, what’s the condition of my love today? Is it growing cold? Distant? Aloof? Am I acting in ways that will give more life to my love, and am I keeping love alive through my thoughts, words, and deeds?
So, how are you experiencing God’s presence as you are becoming a peacemaker for the cause of Christ?
Peacemakers for the Cause of Christ – Facilitators of God’s Peace in a World Looking for Peace.
We hope you’ll enjoy these 31 podcasts and blogs that focus on our great need in today’s society for peacemakers; men, women, and children who are willing to step away from all the contempt, division, and hatred, and step in toward the blessed call of being Christ-centered peacemakers for the greater glory of God. Here’s the homepage for the entire series.
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