And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. 12 And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. — Matthew 24:11-13, NRSV
There are times when we need to “cool off.” Maybe there is an ongoing argument on Facebook, and we are one comment away from hurling our laptop across the room. Sometimes family gatherings get a little too heated, especially when groups of people try to talk politics or religion at each other rather than with one another. Often times our closest relationships have moments wherein we need to walk away, and that’s okay. In many instances, it’s wise to follow Nadeen’s advice and “Simma Down Na!”
Boy, I bet I just dated myself. Follow the link so you can at least get caught up… You back? Alright, good.
Now, believe it or not, cooling down isn’t always the answer. Take a look at Jesus’ words above, taken from Matthew 24. In a conversation about the end times and the impending conquest of Jerusalem, Jesus warns the disciples of upcoming persecutions because of which “many will fall away” (24:10). Obviously, when the alternative is being drawn and quartered, apostasy can (and did) become an enticing option. Jesus warns that though “the love of many will grow cold… the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Discipleship is not an area in which we should be losing steam.
While Jesus aims this exhortation at disciples facing the choice to embrace or abandon their faith, I would like to both emphasize and expand upon that specific teaching. Of course, as Christians it is vital that our faith not “cool off.” When we first embrace the faith, we are full of fire and emotional fuel that pushes us to get involved and pursue the life of a follower of Christ. The problem is that discipleship isn’t always convenient, and it can even be “at odds” with our preferences and prejudices. As time passes, we lose the fire for God that initially moved us, abandoning the love we had at first (see Revelation 2:1-7).
Beyond our belief and religious zeal, I believe there are other disastrous implications for “cooling off” in particular situations. Jesus says our love will grow cold “because of the increase of lawlessness,” and He was certainly right. As we keep up with world events, engage is public discourse, and experience all the world has to offer, it’s clear that the lawlessness and negativity that is so prominent is taking a major toll on our ability to act with compassion and love toward one another.
It makes sense that in the face of overwhelming evil our impulse is to turn inward. In short, we simply stop caring about particular things or people. This is a way of protecting the self, and is totally understandable. It is also the worst thing we could possibly do. When we turn away from the needs and suffering of others in pursuit of our own highly restricted reality, we depart from the path of discipleship and humanity. In short, we contribute to the fallen nature of the world around us.
The solution presented to us by Jesus and the prophets is to repent and endure. We should remember that the evils of the world do not have the final word with God. With that understood, those same evils should not be allowed to ice-down the passion and love we are expected to bring to the world. While it is certainly difficult to endure the many inevitable wounds being dealt to our hearts, the end result will be worth it when we look back at our lives and see what God is able to do with our perseverance.
It is clear to me that Jesus’ advice is more fitting than ever. Love is what keeps the Gospel in circulation. Love provides substantive hope, which is what we most need in these uncertain times. We cannot allow the darkness of the world to overshadow us, and we cannot allow our hearts to grow cold in the face of adversity. Instead, we should repent, recover our sense of compassion, and stay that course at all costs. Let’s love even our enemies as we want to be loved. Let’s share with the poor and the outcast as we would want others to share with us. In short, let’s live as though Heaven were already here. If we do these things, doors will open, light will pierce the darkness, and bit by bit we will make our way toward a better future.
Peace be with you!