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Christian Union: The Magazine
May 27, 2024

Christian Union Devotional from CU National Fast, January 2024

by erin conner, writer and communications associate

"And when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. This must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains."  - Mark 13:7-8

Christ Jesus warns us of many things, as recorded throughout the New Testament. Here, in the book of Mark, He warns us not to become alarmed or afraid when we hear of wars. Why is this? Wars are frightening. This command of Christ makes me recall C.S. Lewis's famous claim that Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic, or Lord. I imagine those who are outside of Christ may think it sounds a bit peculiar to tell someone not to be afraid of war in light of all the devastation and death it causes.

But there is a spiritual principle underpinning this command of Christ. "Do not be alarmed" is the imperative directive because, when we are in the will of God, we need not fear. So, the primary question here doesn't seem to be, "Should we or shouldn't we be afraid in times of war?" The primary question is, "Are we in the will of God: is Christ truly the Lord of our lives?"  If yes, then do not be afraid. "In Christ"—fully surrendered to Him— is the most secure place we can possibly be. 

If anyone is not living reconciled and surrendered to Christ, then Jesus is lovingly calling non-believers and believers alike to get fully in Him. Imagine if Noah, after investing so much faith and time in building the ark,  only put one foot on it, leaving the other foot on the earth when it began to rain because he thought it would be wise to not put all his metaphorical eggs in one basket or because he wasn't willing to surrender some temporal benefit of living in the world. Noah and his family would not have been safe to "play it safe" with one foot in the world and one foot on the ark when the flood waters came. We are not "safe" with one foot in the world and one foot in Christ, either. Being double-minded renders us unsable in all our ways (James 1:8).

lightstock 96330 medium erin conner

Over the chaos and distractions of the world, can we hear Christ's loving voice calling us to get "all in"? Are we too busy being lord of our own lives and making our own plans to hear Him?  Being lord of our own life while claiming to follow Christ makes us double-minded. Serving two gods– ourselves and our God– simply doesn't work. It won't cast out fear. But placing God above all things in our lives--making Him the voice of authority in our lives--keeps us from living in a constant state of fear from all the terrors of this world. 

Becoming deeply immersed in Scripture to allow it to cleanse us and minister to us will help us get (and stay) out of the world. Praying, fasting, and asking God for wisdom can create a space for us to listen and wait for His response in our hearts, minds, and souls. When the world begins to tell us what we must do to save ourselves, let us find the humility to surrender our lives to the Lord and ask Him what He wants us to do. God gives us direct instruction regarding the world's instruction to us: "The whole world lies in the power of the evil one" (1 John 5:19)and "friendship with the world is enmity with God" (Jame 4:4). God clearly warns us, "Do not follow the pattern of the world" (Romans 12:2).

There is no "safe place" in the world. No worldly institution, system, or leader can save us. True security and safety only come when we are so near to the Lord, so closely following Him, that we are dwelling in Him– when we are in the shelter of the Most High (Psalm 91).

Perhaps one reason believers tend to follow the world in addition to trying to follow God is because we are afraid God is not going to show up for us, or at least not in the time or manner we want Him to. So, we take things into our own hands. We formulate our own plan. Abram and Sarai made this kind of mistake. They received a promise, but they didn't care for God's timing. It was taking too long. It seems they wanted a sense of control over their circumstances, instead of to surrender. Scripture tells us that they formulated their own plan to execute God's will in their lives by planning their promised child through Hagar. Sadly, it seems their distrust made room for deception which made room for disaster. The unbelievably good news is that they turned back to God wholeheartedly, and God blessed them and fulfilled His promise to them (Genesis 12-22). We can do the same, even in the face of war, plagues, famine, and earthquakes.  

The world is full of anxiety, depression, and fear, as it should be; there isn't anything of this world that can save us. Thus, when we get out of the world and in Christ, fully surrendered to Him, we will get out of living in a chronic state of fear and into the abundant life Christ came to give, regardless of our circumstances. 

Jesus is enough. He always was, is, and will be. If we love Him, we will obey Him and make him our Lord, not just a secondary or tertiary savior in our lives. Then, dear ones, we truly will have nothing to fear in this life or the next. 

Father God, we come to You now with our arms held high, surrendered to You. Give us the mind of Christ; purify us of a worldly mindset; remove the idols that take Your rightful place in our lives as Lord. Show us in whom or in what we are truly placing our trust. When we are afraid and impatient, help us to place our trust in You and You alone. Help us to place no other "gods" before you. Deliver us from our fears by giving us the courage to trust and obey You in all things. In Jesus' mighty name, we pray. Amen.