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Reflections On “A Ransom For Many” — 11

Daniel Tan

Mark 13:1–37

The longer people live, the more obvious the impermanence of achievement becomes. When you are young, the smallest of achievements makes you celebrate for days, but as you grow older, you realise how little the import of certain achievements are. People remember your legacy and your impact far more than your achievements. Of course, that's not to say that achievements are meaningless. They are a good measure of effort and a means for us to demonstrate God's glory. In the end though, achievements are God-given. The margin between achieving something and not often just comes down to factors that we are not in control of.

That said, it means that achievements are worthless in the face of greater things — relationships for example, whether with those around us or our Heavenly Father. Yet it is not uncommon to observe individuals forfeit their relationships with others for the mere sake of achieving something. We are often blinded to the ephemeral nature of the achievements we pursue so much so that we forget the truly important and long-lasting things.

How many people have achieved much and looked back on their life with regret, longing that they had spent more time with friends and family? How many have been surrounded by friends and family and have been satisfied even if they achieved little else? As the common saying goes, death is the ultimate equaliser. Everyone dies, but what comes after is more important.

Of all people, we as Christians should be looking at death with the most favour. Not in a somber mood, but rather knowing that death is the beginning of our true interactions with our Father, like someone you've been keeping in contact with only through online messaging and finally being able to interact with them in person for the first time.

Jesus told the disciples that they should keep watch in lieu of this long term view. It is doubtful he meant only the times when we are captured by difficulty but also the times when we are caught up in our pursuit of achievement and of worldly things that we can forget and forsake our relationships in favour of what we 'need' to do.

Remember, the devil does not only prowl to strike when we feel weak. He does so when we are resting on our laurels, confident of the challenge to come. The only correct position to be in is to be cautious. Not anxious and filled with needless worry, but to be on alert and watching the enemy before us.

The temple of Jerusalem was a marvel of architecture but when it was finished those who were there in Solomon's time wept with bitter sorrow. They had witnessed the grandeur of Solomon's temple and the sins of them and their predecessors had led to the downfall of that marvelous work of art. In the same way, Jesus reminded the disciples: these great wonders of architecture are nothing in the face of God's power (Mark 13:1-2). If God could tear down the temple of Solomon what more could He do to bring down a lesser temple? And of course we know that the temple, both metaphorically and physically was torn down in the reign of Rome.

In the face of all this desolation and defence, it might seem kind of hopeless. As humans the concept of struggling throughout life is not a pleasant one. But Jesus gives this promise: that those who endure will be rewarded and saved (Mark 13:13).

Most of the apostles were persecuted and martyred. John on the other hand, held on to a ripe old age. None of them let go of the promise of Christ even in their dying moments. Why would you if you believed and witnessed a resurrection before you? Because of this, they were given strength. But Jesus says that those who believe without seeing (aka every one of us) would be rewarded even more greatly because it would be harder. The reward is great, but so is the struggle forward. Are we willing to commit to this journey?

No matter what comes our way, we are not promised an easy life nor a life cut short by the second coming. Rather, we are told to live our lives enduring for the sake of Christ and preaching his gospel.

Nowadays, the spread of false Christianity is rampant and giving a bad name to Christians. Perhaps the greatest threat to Christianity is not the atheists or the agnostics. They have their own beliefs and are to be respected for that. No, the greatest threat is those who come tarnishing the name of Christ. And that's not just those TV evangelists who preach prosperity gospels and the like. It could very well be you and me if we don't properly practice our walk with God. We are to be watchful. We are to hold on to that relationship and that promise of reward atop the achievements that seem ever so resplendent and glorious. Because when time falls apart, our salvation is eternal.

Daniel Tan

Daniel is currently and forevermore will be a student and a learner, trying to delve into the deep conundrums of life and seeing where the path leads. He enjoys linking different things in life back to God through strange and seemingly random connections.

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