Luke 21:5-6, 10-13 – “While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here--the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down… Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky. Before all this happens, however, they will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name.”
Our Gospel reading for this Sunday does not provide us with much positivity or hope. But if we head over to the 21st chapter of Luke and read on, we see the full story with an ending that provides us comfort and strength.
“There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
It’s been a tough week for many Americans as election results return, from propositions to senators, from measures to the president. Many feel scared and disillusioned. But as Christians, our citizenship is in a different kind of kingdom with a different kind of king. Our citizenship belongs to Christ and His kingdom. Our citizenship is in heaven. (Philippians 3:20) And nothing can strip that away from us.
The apostle Paul wrote a letter to Rome and said, “I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
So, stand up and lift up your heads. The Son of Man is coming in a cloud with power and great glory and nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Him. Jesus already warns us: this world will pass away. This is not our home. We will, one day, be standing before the throne of God surrounded by a great multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language worshipping God with a loud voice. (Revelation 7:9-10) Those are our fellow citizens. That is our nation. Don’t get me wrong. It is important for us to vote tomorrow, but it is also important to remember that our identity is found, above all, in Christ.
Jesus tells us to be a light to the world and while we should fight against evil, we all know that light shines best in darkness. The Gospel of Christ has always spread best when in time of persecution, not power. So do not fear when it seems that our nation is moving toward darkness. Do not fear even when, like the Gospel says, all turn against you or your faith. This is our time to shine even more brightly.
I’ll see you Wednesday night and around the table this weekend to reenact the narrative of God’s redemption that we will live fully one day, standing side-by-side before the throne of God worshipping with full voice. For the time being, let’s lift up our heads and let out that voice.