Passion Week Musings: The Olivet Discourse

In terms of Passion Week, after causing great disruption at the temple and driving out moneychangers and merchants the next documented event is that of the Olivet discourse. Jesus took extended time to give last words to the crowd of disciples. The discourse was his last public teaching. He spent time speaking in prophecy and parables. His teaching included the commentary on the ten virgins and the five talents. He also provided warning to remain in truth and warned of deceivers. He prophesied about the destruction of Jerusalem and the times leading up to His second coming. It is worthwhile to take time to read the varied accounts of the Olivet Discourse found in Mark 13, Matthew 24 and 25, and Luke 21. Jesus is quick clear that there is great difficulty and tribulation coming before His return both in terms of Israel and those in God’s kingdom. He makes it clear that there are signs to attend to and that love can grow cold and people can and will be deceived. Also emphasized in the discourse is the importance of our actions following what we say we believe.Through all of what Jesus talked about, there is one point that catches my attention today.

Jesus summed up his discourse with a call to stay awake. The book of Mark ends the account of the discourse in Mark 13: 34-37 (ESV): “It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. Therefore stay awake–for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning– lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.” So Jesus emphasizes the importance staying awake. The point is further clarified in the way Luke’s account wraps up the discourse in Luke 21:34:36 (ESV): “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” So Jesus does give clear directive that there will be pain, loss of self control, and distractions of life that can draw one away from attending to the Gospel.

There are endless varieties of pain; endless ways to lose self; and unyielding array of life concerns that can take the focus and result in failing asleep and failing to attend to the matters of a servant in the Kingdom of Heaven. It is noteworthy that in many circles within the Body of Christ are calls for revival and suggestions of revival happening in one location or another. In this discourse, Jesus warns not to go chasing from one location or another. He simply directs us to stay awake. Staying awake is actively attending to the matters of the Kingdom of God. It is found in loving others and attending to the various signs as they occur. It is taking focus away from pains, pleasures, or tasks of life and instead seeking to be about the Father’s business. No one else can supply what is needed, rather staying awake involved actively worshipping in spirit in truth. It is depending on the fuel of God and investing what He has given in order to spread God’s kingdom. His Kingdom is not of politics, it is not about relief of suffering, it is not about giving us all we want and reducing the cares of life. Rather, his Kingdom is about loving God and loving others fully and letting others know that there is only one way, one truth, one life, and one gate; JESUS! So stay awake and if caught up in the varied elements of life that lure and entrap like the Siren’s call of myths, WAKE UP! For Jesus return is always and ever SOON! He is the soon and coming King. We have all we need and all that is need for true revival is for each of us to wake up and actively use what God has given.

Video Selection: Be Still MY Soul/What A Freind We Have in Jesus- Selah

Be Still My Soul/What A Friend We Have in Jesus

 Selah

Be still, my soul: The Lord is on your side.

Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;

Leave to thy God to order and provide;

In every change He faithful will remain

Be still, my soul: Thy best, Thy heavenly friend

Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul:

The waves and winds still know (still know)

His voice who ruled them

While He dwelt below

Musical interlude:

Oh, what peace we often forfeit, oh, what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Be still my soul.

Video Selections: Francis Chan “Is Suffering Optional?”

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Musings on the illustration of physical pains and the body of Christ.

Recently been thinking about comparisons between our physical body and the body of Christ. The thinking started related to the ongoing pain my wife is going through with back and neck pain. She has some chronic misalignment stemming initially from past accidents. She had a severe car accident in 1996 impacting her neck. She had a work related fall in around 2001, where she fell on lower back. Lately she has been working on getting appropriate Chiropractic care and getting things back into alignment. She has been having chronic pain and now when trying to get things set right, her body is fighting it and getting increased pain. Thinking about such facts as well as general ways the body deals with pain can gives us spiritual lessons regarding the body of Christ. God had Paul use that imagery for meaning and purpose.

There are three key elements that came to mind in reflecting about in relations to my wife’s suffering and how it relates to the church. The first thought is that when any part of the body of Christ is out of proper alignment it brings pain. Some of the pain is inflicted by our own choices; sometimes the pain comes from circumstances, sometimes other people’s choices. Regardless of the reason for the misalignment, it is a source of great pain.

It is important to realize that the pain that is cause is not isolated and impacts the whole body. The lies, sins, and selfishness in one part of the body of Christ impacts the whole. What happens is not in isolation. When the body of Christ operates connected fully to the head in proper alignment, things go well. Yet, the assorted causes of misalignment always bring pain. Now just as in a physical body, the closer one is to the sources of pain, the more impact; the same in the body of Christ. What happens in related parts of the body impact first the parts that are more closely related.

Now it is important to note that turning from self, sin, and deception involves work that can bring greater pain initially while the work is done to get things right. The increase in pain simply shows how much misalignment existed. Sometimes the process for healing and correct alignment goes smoothly and quickly but other times it takes a lot of pain and work. It is because of the increased pain that resistance occurs. It can seem much easier to accept the pain that Is known and adjusted rather than do the work for proper realignment in accordance with God’s will and design. Also because of the increased pain, resistance from other parts of the body can occur. The resistant occurs because the body has trained to react in certain ways. It will occur. It is how the body operates. So when getting more aligned with God’s word, truth, and will there may be reactions from self or others resistant.

So what does this mean practically? Well, these thoughts encourage me to first turn to Jesus and ask for my areas of misalignment that bring pain to the body to come to my awareness. It is being aware that what I say and do does not happen in isolation and even that done in private and secret brings pain to the body. There is clear evidence of need to assess on an ongoing basis my alignment before God. Am I walking as He guides and directs and surrendering to His will, or have I deviated with failure to recognize that infliction of pain. The thoughts drive me to examine my own areas of resistance and examine what I need to turn away from and bring in surrender to God’s will. When not within the center of what God desires has in store it results in bringing pain, when walking in the center of what God desires, it enriches and builds up the body.

So in thinking through these images it brings into clear focus the need for ongoing evaluation of whether I am acting in God’s lead and love or living for my own ideas. One option builds up and enriches others. The other brings pain and tears down. Above all we have impact on others both in our words and actions. Our choices matter for good or bad. Each of us needs to continually examine if we demonstrate love for God with our entire self and if we are truly exhibiting love for one another. Failure to do so brings pain and returning to God’s way can meet resistance. Ultimately, we all stumble and falter and need get our alignment back. Waking up to misalignments brings temporary pain but ultimately walking in God’s peace and joy through being properly aligned results in God’s best. And ultimately in this world filled with suffering and ill choices, we all need the pain of transformative peace as we align within God’s will and desire over our own. It hurts for a little while but when things are aligned right, the pain will subside.