About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman
During the recent Covid
crisis many Christians could be heard complaining.
Worst still, their divisiveness split local churches in half, which
is in stark contrast to Jesus' prayer for Christian unity (John 17).
Most of these Christians believe they are living in the last days
of this age. Who knows that
for sure, but if we are that close to the "Eve of Destruction"
as Barry McGuire's 1965 hit song put it, is such behaviour appropriate?
Jesus addressed end-time
issues as seen in Luke 21. From
verse 8 through 18 He listed certain positive character traits we need as
this age winds down, and complaining and divisiveness weren't on His list.
As stated in verse 19, He told us to "stand firm and you will
win life" (NIV), or "by your endurance you will gain your
life" (CSB), or "by your patience possess your souls" (NKJV).
Here's my brief exegetical analysis of this verse.
I prefer the CSB and
NKJV of Luke 21:19 over the NIV because most Bible scholars suggest that
enduring as seen in the Greek text of this verse is not an action we do as
the NIV states.
It is a godly character quality we possess, and this is vitally
important. Jesus appears to
have been telling us that long before difficult days hit us, endurance
should have been firmly formed into the fabric of who we are.
If endurance has not been previously established in our lives,
trying to endure during severe trials may well be impossible.
It's a matter of present-day preparation for an unpredictable
The Greek verb
translated as "win," "gain" or "possess" in
the above versions of Luke 21:19 is a middle voice Greek verb.
This means our winning, gaining, or possessing is not accomplished
by us alone. An outside source
is assisting us in this matter, which I believe is Jesus and those to whom
He has united us in church.
The Greek word
"psyche" that is translated as "life" or
"souls" in the texts above is also translated as breath, mind
and heart in the English New Testament.
It's a matter of interpretation, then, to know what English word to
use in the translation of "psyche" in this verse.
I lean towards "psyche" in this instance being our
invisible self that makes us human.
I conclude that if we
are to succeed in acquiring the maximum inner stability in the midst of
trials, godly character qualities like endurance must be working in our
lives long before trials hit us. If
not, such ungodly character traits like complaining and destructiveness
will steal our sanity.
As I type these words in
2023, there are many problems invading today's world that can easily,
without warning, explode into a catastrophic crisis that will make Covid
look like a birthday party. If
you want to win, gain, or possess the best of who you can be, now is the
time to stop complaining and dividing God's people.
Allow Jesus to help endurance to be formed into the fabric of who
you are. It's the only way to
proceed if the days in which we live are those infamous last days leading
to the Eve of Destruction.