Have you heard the “news” for the next few years—meltdown of the Trump administration, entrenched dictators in China and Russia, stock market “correction,” global warming, nuclear threats, fatal “super-bugs” resistant to all antibiotics, terrorism everywhere, an imminent eruption in Yellowstone, a major earthquake overdue in Tokyo?
Idle speculations? Amazingly, as Jesus’ saw his own execution coming, he focused on these kinds of unknown calamities of the distant future (wars, earthquakes, persecution) instead of on his personal crisis at hand. There was a huge disconnect between his teaching on these subjects and what the disciples were dying to know—what was his strategy and timetable for taking power, and what roles were the disciples supposed to play in it?
Even more puzzling, he talked as if he would go away and leave them for a while. Surely he would set up his throne in Jerusalem, probably that very week, and he would rule forever as Messiah from there. What was this talk about leaving and coming back?
He was cluing in the clueless. Up to this point in Freedom Week, the disciples were just thrilled spectators. Now he was drawing them into the action, giving them a share in the freedom, but that meant they had to get the big picture in order to be ready to live free in the future no matter what.
A central part of his big picture is that when calamities strike, be they generic ones like wars that hit everybody, or specific persecutions that hit only Christians (Mt. 24), it does not mean that God has lost control. It just is not yet God’s time to stop them.
Instead of worrying about the unknowns of the future like the lazy servant who buried his master’s money, those who trust Jesus for the timing of his return are set free to focus on each day as it comes. Like the five wise bridesmaids and the two diligent servants (Mt. 25), they stay alert for his arrival and in the meantime they productively use whatever gifts they have been given.
They are the roosters watching for the dawn. Roosters feel no obligation to control the sunrise. They simply keep an eye out and announce it when they see it. We get to live in this same wonderfully free way; positive and expectant. We don’t have to force God’s will on anybody. We don’t have to create the perfect world at any price. Instead we get to announce the perfect world arriving in Christ and through him in us.
Affirmation: The only future unknown that really matters is the day of Jesus’ return. That is our North Star.
Prayer: Faithful Father, thank you that coming calamities, whatever they may be, do not have to preoccupy us. We are free to live each day trusting your power and your timing.