Hot Heads & Cold Hearts

We live in contentious socio-political times. Black Lives Matter vs. Blue Lives Matter… Antifa vs. White Supremacy…Masks vs. No Masks… Hard Left vs. Hard Right. We’re divided by identify politics. There seems to be no middle ground on which to stand. As a devoted follower of Jesus Christ, what are we supposed to do? How do I keep from falling short of displaying the grace of God in my life? What must I do to keep from letting a “root of bitterness” grow in my life and cause “…trouble, and by it become defiled…” (Hebrews 12:15)? What about the admonition of the Apostle Paul to “…to slander no one, not to be contentious, to be gentle, showing every consideration for all people” (Titus 1:3)?

As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I’m cognizant of what my Master and His Word teaches about keeping my heart free from bitterness and contention – how not to be a hot head with a cold heart. Jesus knew that contentious days like the ones we live in would come: “And because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will become cold” (Matthew 24:12 – NASB). Jesus spoke these words in the middle of his “end times discourse” in response to his disciples’ question: “What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Matthew 24:2 – NASB). In 30 AD Jesus saw what was coming to 2020 AD.

As a young pastor, I worked alongside an older, wiser brother from the Midwest. I loved his down home way of expressing truth. He who once told me: “Daniel, as you lead God’s people never forget to guard your heart – and keep your backside covered!” Good advice, I later came to realize, as I navigated my way through a four decades long pastoral career.

Jesus told us four things to do in order to “guard” our hearts (and keep your back sides covered) as we await his return. If we act on them, they will keep our heads cool and our hearts warm toward people whose perspective on life differs drastically from our own – regardless of how they respond to us.

BE READY “You too, be ready; because the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not think He will” (Luke 12:40 – NASB). That means to be ready personally. If you haven’t already done it, come to Jesus today and confess your sin. Ask him to forgive you. Accept his forgiveness and be “born again.” Eternal life will begin for you the moment you do that. And “be ready” means to help as many other people as you can to be ready, too. Our mission on this planet is to love God and love people by populating heaven and depopulating hell. Be prepared and help others be prepared for the return of the “righteous Judge” (2 Timothy 4:8 – NASB).

STAY ALERT…“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming (Matt. 24:42 – NASB). Once you’ve come to Jesus and decide to become one of his followers – don’t fall asleep spiritually. But stay alert to the “signs of the times.” Be spiritually vigilant in prayer for yourself and for others – especially other Christians. And when life looks like it’s all “going to hell on roller skate” – do what you can to help and then, pray some more. God gives us his perspective through prayer. Stay alert.

KEEP BUSY“A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. And he called ten of his own slaves and gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Do business with this money until I come back’ (Luke 19:13 – NASB). Jesus used this parable to teach his disciples to never stop being engaged in “kingdom business.” Being used by God to build his kingdom on earth – as it is in heaven – is what we exist for. Our purpose, in addition to loving God and loving people, is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. Loving and leading people into becoming Jesus’ wholehearted followers, is our lifeblood. Keep busy at it.

LOOK UPBut when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28 – NASB). In the context of this passage Jesus is teaching about the end of time and “thing to come” just before his return to earth. He speaks in very somber terms of nations going to war…earthquakes, plagues, and famines…and weather patterns gone mad. He tells of fellow Christians being persecuted for their faith (some becoming martyrs)…and the nation of Israel suffering great “distress” and “wrath.” He warns of people “…fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Luke 21:26 – NASB). And then – at the end of all his somber words of warning – he says: “…straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” In other words: “Look up…Keep your head up…because I am coming back to take you into eternity to give you your reward!”

Be ready…Stay alert…Keep busy…and…Look up…because the “Righteous Judge” is coming!

“Lord, thank you for saving us from ourselves and giving us eternal life. Thank you for the discernment to know the signs of your return. Thank you for the assignment you’ve given us to make disciples for you and your kingdom here on earth. And thank you for the confidence to keep our heads up when living life for you appears impossible. Maranatha! ‘Come quickly, Lord Jesus’!”

 

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