“Jesus said, ‘And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.’” (Mark 13:13)
Endurance is a popular subject. Athletes train for it. Politicians craft it. Parents hope for it. And Jesus calls for it.
Endurance. It’s a noun that describes the capacity of someone or something to endure wear and tear. It comes from the word “endure,” which, according to my Scholastic Dictionary of American English, is “the ability to suffer patiently without yielding.”
Jesus tells it to us plainly. Believers should expect suffering and persecution. It’s not a pleasant picture. In Mark 13:13, Jesus was talking to the disciples about what was to come. At this point, they still didn’t understand it all. His death and resurrection were yet to come. The “gospel” still wasn’t fully clear to them.
However, it is clear for us.
We know that Jesus was crucified, died, and was buried for the forgiveness of our sins. We know that three days later, He burst out of that tomb, declaring that He is the resurrection and the life. His Word declares it. His life gives it—Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life.
Yet there are many in this world, in this country, and in our own communities who do not believe this. They are lost. They follow after the ways of this world. They believe the lies of Satan. Some even persecute Christians for their beliefs. They are in desperate need of Jesus!
Many Christians see that America is coming to a crossroads. Christian values and virtues are being threatened on numerous fronts. Some feel our country is being destroyed, that America is no longer “America the Beautiful'“ but is having her foundations overturned one vote and one Supreme Court decision after another.
Jesus calls us to endure to the end no matter the age, country, or era of history we find ourselves in.
Recognizing how America has changed is a good thing. The morals and values of “Leave it to Beaver” have been replaced by “Seinfeld,” “Modern Family,” and the Kardashians. But life during the Eisenhower era was not perfect either. We remember history more fondly than it was. This is why Jesus calls us to endure to the end no matter the age, country, or era of history we find ourselves in.
Jesus tells His disciples—you—where hope is found. Hope is in Him, not in a country. Eternal confidence is in His promise, not in a government. Truth is in His Word, not in a vote of the people. True “love,” you see, comes in His death and resurrection, not the decision of the Supreme Court.
Yet that does not mean we as Christians should step back from our civic duty. Rather, we . . .
Stand up for truth
We know that despite what may come to America, Jesus was not, cannot, and will not ever be destroyed. There is always hope.
No, it won’t always be easy. Tough times are ahead. Pressure to be politically correct will mount. As Christians we can be assured people will hate us. Many will try to lead us astray. Jesus said as much.
Enduring to the end . . . means living our faith and fortifying our faith—through prayer, repentance, and the Word of God—as we live out our daily vocations and serve our neighbors in love and good works.
Enduring to the end, then, is more than having the right idea or knowledge about God. It’s more than just going through the motions. It means living our faith and fortifying our faith—through prayer, repentance, and the Word of God—as we live out our daily vocations and serve our neighbors in love and good works.
Faith conversations need to happen in the home—between husband and wife, between parents and children. If we want to have strong, faith-filled children or grandchildren, we must make sure those conversations are happening in our homes and in our congregations. And I know they are, so keep it up! Don’t stop! Endure to the end, tough as it might become.
When it does grow heavy and difficult, know that Jesus walks with you through it all. After all, He knows endurance is difficult. He endured the hate and the scorn. He suffered the nails and the spear. He knows the worst that this world can bring. (He knows the worst that you and I can bring.) And He paid for it all on the cross. Yes, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, so that you and I might have hope.
A government tried to kill Him, a people tried to destroy Him, the devil tried to bury Him, and sin tried to devour Him. But He endured, and on the third day, He walked out of the tomb alive. Come what may to this country, Christ Jesus will not turn His back on us. Baptized into His name, He will not abandon us. Jesus is our hope. He is our life. We endure because He endures.
Jesus is our hope. He is our life. We endure because He endures.
This article also appears in the March 2019 Lutheran Witness insert for the Minnesota South District. View the full insert with this article and additional news and encouragement here.