Its hard to turn on the news or tune in to the latest developments without hearing some new development about the worlds newest nuclear club members. Seems like these days theres a whole smattering of superpower wannabes who are just a screwdriver and/or big fat check away from being able to blow away a good portion of the planet.
And if that werent bad enough, some of the leaders of these nations come off about as rational and clear thinking as a squirrel on PCP or maybe theyre crazy like a fox. Either way, Im definitely sensing a generalized sense of anxiety on the rise in these United States. After all, most would agree that America is oftentimes synonymous with target in the minds of aforementioned squirrels. The chess pieces in this game are rapidly moving towards what looks to be a violent conclusion.
So whats a believer to do? Should we panic? Pray? Pray panicky prayers? Personally, I dont have a clue but I know Someone who does. In fact, in His day there was no shortage of power starving megalomaniacs either. Im sure this was a certain source of disconcerting feelings for the disciples, which is why Jesus let them in on what I would call a prescription for panic:
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come (Matthew 24:6)
Indeed, we are hearing of wars and even rumors of potential nuclear wars. But isnt in interesting that Jesus says we shouldnt be alarmed? The original meaning behind the word alarmed is essentially to cry out aloud from distress. Its a strong word that connotes a strong reaction. In the midst of mad dictators and nuclear tests, Jesus is advising us to be calm and remain seated until the plane of life comes to a complete stop.
Why Jesus? Whats so important about keeping peaceful when all hell seems to be breaking loose?
I believe His answer comes later in the passage when He counsels the disciples (and us) to be prepared:
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Matthew 24:43-44)
I think what Jesus is getting at is this dont be alarmed sound the alarm.
When the headlines begin to look more and more like pages from Biblical prophecy, dont be distressed, freaked out, or panicked. Instead, let it sound an internal alarm to be ready. And how do we get ready? Pack up the basement with beans and bullets like a Y2K déjà vu? Um no. Being ready in the true Christian sense means to especially focus on being a true Christian. That is, love the Lord God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. When you see that time is quite possibly running out, then dont hesitate to run out and tell everyone the good news that though this world is nearing an end, their world doesnt have to. In other words, when we hear about wars and rumors of wars, let it be a cue to live for heaven and for taking as many there with you as you can. Thats the kind of alarm that would make Him proud.
Lane Palmer is the Youth Ministries Specialist for Dare 2 Share Ministries in Arvada, Colo., where he works with to provide resources for youth leaders and students. Dare 2 Share exists to energize and equip teens to know, live, share and own their faith in Jesus. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries or the GameDay youth conference tour, please visit www.dare2share.org. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.