Can you remember a time in your life when people globally have experienced such consistent times of duress?
Almost two years on and the risk of covid 19 is more real than ever here in Australia.
Imagine the enormity of the overall toll.
And now the push to restrict unvaccinated people’s movements. This includes for the workplace, travel and in public amenities.
I’m not a pessimist but ‘what is going on?’
It is just the beginning.
Bunnings’ hardware motto is ‘low prices are just the beginning.’ Jesus’ mention of ‘beginnings’ is much weightier.
He wants humanity to be ready for the end of the world and his coming kingdom. He warned in Matthew chapter 24, that natural disasters such as ‘pestilences’ are “the beginning of the birth pains”.
Of course, natural disasters and wars are nothing new in history. However, is humanity uneasy by the frequency and intensity of issues arising, like the escalating pains during a birth?
Think of some of the waves of unprecedented disasters nationally last year, and in the last few months and weeks, in relation to say floods and fires alone.
The need-to-know-thing to endure.
Jesus also warned with the rise of false Messiahs, betrayal, deception, and wars, “the love of most will grow cold” but “he who endures to the end will be saved.”
So, why all this tribulation? The rise of the new “city on a hill” seen in Matthew chapter five, so people glorify their father in heaven is contrasted in the chiastic Matthew structure overall. The associated desolation of the old temple, as a part of the old, created order making way for the new is seen in Matthew 24.
Disciples who understand this are empowered by God to endure. The increasing darkness and anguish in the world is causing kingdom light and hope to shine more brightly than ever.
The must-priority in these times
How do we keep shining? We must align to Jesus’ main focus; was it love, God’s word, salvation, the cross, truth, missions, discipleship or church…? No doubt all these are very important.
However, a closer look at the gospels reveals Jesus began preaching the kingdom. His parables and teachings were centred on his kingdom message. His disciples were equipped and sent out to preach the kingdom of God.
And Jesus’ ministry endured and culminated in his self-disclosure about his kingship which cost him his life.
Now ask yourself and consider what you hear from preachers today. Is it Jesus’ emphasis on the kingdom of God, relating to the king’s domain, his rule and reign and its imminent establishment?
Any wonder churches are lacking clout and endurance today?
If we come under God’s rule, we will be able to rule
King David was prepared for service by enduring under Saul’s tyranny. He accepted God’s rule, submitting, and had great authority. So too, New Testament disciples were tested severely to submit to governing authorities, to stay true to God’s rule.
It’s interesting to me that there is little emphasis on obeying government and authorities from the pulpit. Covid-times have really exposed this. Many don’t believe in vaccination. No doubt, it is not a simple matter, but not doing so due to unfounded fears is problematic.
Could it be that God is readying his church for an upgrade in the stature of Christ as we pass a submission test and shake off independence.
Come to communion table
Peter was reluctant to submit and be washed at communion time. Jesus insisted he may not understand it but would later.
It requires honesty and humility to be washed by Jesus’ word. Some areas of our lives may be filthy due to worldly influences, like bath scum neglected for a long while.
Jesus is cleansing his bride in this hour. By walking in obedience to Jesus we can experience the “full extent of God’s love. “
God can heal deep in our hearts manifesting his kingdom.
Our love will endure and grow hot in this way.
We have what is needed to endure
Jesus said, “even the least in the kingdom is greater than John.” In other words, we have the same holy spirit that enabled Jesus to endure and overcome enormous hostility daily.
It’s important to rely on the spirit’s power so we don’t idolise humanism and Marvel-movie-transhuman trends.
To endure we must realise that the greater things begin in the lesser ones. Spectacular miracles are just as good as laying hands on people with faith despite outcomes.
Both exhibit the kingdom. Start where you are and know that “to him who has shall more be given.” Persevere! And you will see that “from days of John the Baptist till now the kingdom of God is forcefully advancing!”
Don’t be weighed down
Jesus warned to be ready for his coming, not being “weighed down by anxiety in the waiting”. Indeed, the trend for alcohol consumption and taking antidepressants has and will skyrocket with the increase of lockdowns and those birth pains.
However, Jesus’ kingdom alternative rings out today: “Who is the faithful and wise steward, put in charge, that gives food at the proper time.”
Studying the bible deeply and feeding the disciples is a most excellent way to endure! Giving out fresh manna fosters fresh empowerment in the spirit. And I always say, sharing helps save your own soul.
And as we steward faithfully God will make us aware of the need to preach Christ where he is not known.
A great highlight of my covid lockdown time has been to disciple people with hearts to grow and those desiring to start new works in our nation.
Joy is set before us
At birth all the pain is forgotten for joy.
For now, “all who call on the Lord will be saved.”
Mark Rusic was born in Melbourne and has a bachelor in Mechanical engineering. He became a missionary to many suffering hardship and poverty on Madura Island in Indonesia, for about 4 years, from 1990. He has worked as a pastor-life coach over the past 17 years in Hope International Ministries. Mark is also an artist and author and has also written two books which are a collection of his own paintings, photography and poetry. These include ‘Iconic Melbourne of Australia’ and ‘Iconic Animals of Australia with a voice to release your giant potential within.’ He has been counted among some of Australia’s best-selling authors since 2014 and is a public speaker in various community groups, organisations and churches. He has a special grace to help people find and release why they were born. See iconiccolours.com for more information about Mark’s services.