I was reading in Luke this morning, specifically chapter 21. Jesus had just finished describing the chaos and the fear and the uncertainty of the end times and then He said something that caught my attention. Luke 21:28 states it thus:
Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.
Straighten up and raise your heads. Don’t be afraid. Take these fearful signs and acts of violence and confusion as a sign to be even more bold. At a time when everyone around us is running and hiding away, we’re to stand up straight in anticipation of the joy and the hope that will soon be fulfilled.
I think the concept applies not just to the end times. It applies to the present. Today, when we’re facing an unappetizing presidential election, when we’re bombarded with story after story of atrocious acts of violence and cruelty, when the world is reeling in confusion because it cannot define right from wrong, when the media spouts out scandals and conspiracies, I’m reminded of Isaiah 8:12-13:
Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, Him you shall honor as holy. Let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.
The Lord knows the intents of the hearts of men better than any of us, and He is in control of the future, conspiracies or no conspiracies. Our hope has never been in perfecting our country or our world. Our hope is not even in peace. Our hope is not in personal comfort. David wrote in Psalm 23:4,
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
Our hope is founded in, and comes from, the God who walks with us. He is the God who knows what is going on in the world and who is working all things toward their final climax, in which He will once and for all gain the victory over the enemy, over death, over pain, over sickness, over every evil and wretched thing. Why should we fear because of what is going around us? Even if we face persecution and death in the near future, why should we fear? They cannot touch our souls. They cannot steal the joy that only comes from the God who created us and who holds us in the palm of His hand. They can take every personal freedom, privilege, and right; they can even take our lives; but they can never take away our inheritance in the kingdom to come.
What then should our response be to the chaos around us? I’ll end with Philippians 1:27-28 which sums it up pretty well:
Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God.
Let our boldness be the sign to the world of our salvation. Perhaps by our example according to Christ’s power, they will see and come to know that He is the true King over all.