And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains. - Mark 13:7-8
Christ Jesus warns us of many things, as recorded throughout the New Testament. Here, in the book of Mark, He warns us not to become alarmed or afraid when we hear of wars. Why is this? Wars are frightening. This juxtaposition makes me recall C.S. Lewis's famous claim that Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. I imagine those who are outside of Christ think it sounds a bit peculiar to tell someone not to be afraid of war and all the devastation it can cause.
But there is a spiritual principle underpinning this command of Christ. Do not be alarmed is the imperative directive because, when we are in the will of God, we need not fear. So, the primary question here isn't, "Should we or shouldn't we be afraid in times of war?" The primary question is, "Is Christ the Lord of your life?" If yes, then do not be afraid. "In Christ"—fully surrendered to Him— is the most secure place we can possibly be.
If anyone is not living reconciled and surrendered to Christ, then Jesus is lovingly calling non-believers and believers alike to get fully in Him. Imagine if Noah, after investing so much faith and time in building the Ark, only put one foot on it, leaving the other foot on the earth when it began to rain because he thought it would be wise to not put all his metaphorical "eggs" in one basket or because some part of living in the world gave his life an illusion of meaning that he wasn't willing to surrender. Noah and his family would not have been safe to "play it safe" with one foot in the world and one foot on the Ark when the flood waters came. We are not "safe" with one foot in the world and one foot in Christ, either.
Can we hear Christ's loving voice calling us to get "all in" over the chaos and distractions of the world? Are we too busy being lord of our own lives to hear Him? Being lord of our own life tends to create a life marked by anxiety and fear because we are smart enough to know, deep down, that we can't control everything. Being lord of our own life while claiming to follow Christ makes us double-minded. Serving two gods– ourselves and our God– simply doesn't work. Life wasn't designed to work this way. It won't cast out fear. But placing God above all things in our lives keeps us from living in a constant state of fear from all the terrors of this world.
Becoming deeply immersed in Scripture will help us get (and stay) out of the world. Praying, fasting, and asking God for wisdom will create a space for us to listen and wait for His response in our hearts, minds, and spirits. When the world begins telling us what we must do to save ourselves, let us ask God what He wants us to do. God gives us direct instruction regarding the world: "The whole world lies in the power of the evil one" and "friendship with the world is enmity with God." God clearly warns us, "Do not follow the pattern of the world." There is no "safe place" in the world except when we are so near to the Lord, so closely following Him, that we are dwelling in Him– in the shelter of the Most High (Psalm 91).
Perhaps one reason we believers tend to follow the world is because we are afraid God is not going to show up for us, or at least not in the timely manner we want Him to. So, we take things into our own hands. We formulate our own plan. Abram and Sarai made this kind of mistake. They received a promise, but they didn't care for God's timing. It was taking too long. It seems they wanted to control instead of to surrender. So, they formulated their own plan to execute God's will in their lives. It seems their distrust made room for their deception which made room for disaster. The unbelievably good news is that they turned back to God wholeheartedly and walked in faith, and God blessed them and fulfilled His promise to them (Genesis 12-22). We can do the same, even in the face of war, plagues, famine, and earthquakes.
The world is full of anxiety, depression, and fear, as it should be; there isn't anything in the world that can save us. Thus, when we get out of the world and in Christ, fully surrendered to Him, we will get out of living in a chronic state of fear and into the abundant life Christ came to give, regardless of our circumstances.
Jesus is enough. He always was, is, and will be. If we love Him, we will obey Him and make him our Lord, not just a secondary savior in our lives. Then, dear ones, we truly will have nothing to fear in this life or the next.
Father God, we come to You now with our arms held high, surrendered to You. Give us the mind of Christ; purify us of a worldly mindset; remove the idols of the world that take Your rightful place in our lives as Lord. Show us where we are truly placing our trust. When we are afraid and impatient, help us to place our trust in You and You alone. Help us to place no other "gods" before you. Deliver us from our fears, giving us the courage to trust and obey You in all things. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.
Writer and Communications Associate, Christian Union
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