It doesn’t take a Biblical scholar to understand that we are witnessing the last days. In Mathew 24, we get a disturbing look into the last days. Wars. Famine. Pestilence. Persecution. You will think that this is the end, but Jesus said it’s “just the beginning of sorrows.” That’s terrifying.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Jesus also pointed to another critical component of the last days, “…lawlessness will be increased, the LOVE of many will grow cold. but the one who endures to the end will be saved.” – Matthew 24:12-13
In these “labor pains,” we should expect to see society become worse and worse. Lawlessness. Iniquity in the KJV. It’s the Greek word “anomia” which means the violation of the law, or a condition without law. That’s why other translations use the word “lawlessness.”
In society, there are three basic levels of lawlessness:
(1) Anomie – a breakdown of social bonds between an individual and their community, in which individuals do not feel bound by the moral strictures of society. We’ve seen this on display for years. The slow, eroding decay or moral structures. What was considered immoral 30 years ago is no longer even blinked at.
(2) Anarchy – (meaning “without leadership”) is a condition in which a person or group of people reject societal hierarchies, laws, and other institutions. It is when people reject or no longer recognize figures of authority. This isn’t just about governing officials or police officers. We’ve witnessed the erosion of respect for anyone in an authoritative position.
(3) Civil Disorder – or civil unrest, refers to public disturbances generally involving groups of people and resulting in danger or damage to persons or property. Civil Disorder is a breakdown of civil society and may be a form of protest. It may take various forms, such as illegal parades, sit-ins, riots, sabotage, and other forms of crime.
Yes, we see the effects of lawlessness in our country. And if we are not careful, we can be distracted form a more terrifying reality. May there be another aspect of lawlessness to consider? The context of Matthew 24 deals with both physical elements and spiritual elements of the end times. Here in verse 13, Jesus connects “lawlessness” to “love.”
Keeping the law = maintaining a spirit of love
Breaking of the law = losing the spirit of love
I believe there is another element of lawlessness that LEADS to the chaos we are witnessing in our country today.
In James 2, James deals with the “sin of partiality.” James opens chapter 2 by saying, “My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith…” You would think this would be a no brainer in the Church. Of course, we would treat everyone the same, right? Wrong. In the Jewish Church, rich churchgoers were treated differently than poor churchgoers. Much attention was paid to the rich constituents, while the poor were neglected.
There is a distinct correlation to our times. We, as Christians, DO NOT have the right to be partial against any other believer. Regardless of their socioeconomic status.
James then drops the bomb. “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.”
James anticipated that some of his readers might defend their partiality to the rich as merely loving the rich man as their neighbor in obedience to the law. However, by neglecting their poor brother, they were guilty of breaking the “royal law.” The problem wasn’t that one was nice to the rich. The problem was that one showed partiality to the rich, and was not kind to the poor man. So, James is saying you can’t excuse your prejudice by saying, “I’m just fulfilling the command to love my neighbor as myself.” Because guess what? Your neighbor is NOT JUST PEOPLE WHO ARE LIKE YOU.
Paul said in Galatians 5:14 says, “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.””
The Church needs to stop playing favorites to political parties. the Church needs to stop being defensive about the hurts, the wounds, and the injustices of people we may not understand. The Church has a responsibility to LEAD the way in loving our neighbors as much as we love ourselves. LOVE is the antidote to the divide in our society. It IS NOT social lawlessness that is dividing this great country; it is spiritual lawlessness. We have to get back to LOVE.
In Matthew 25, we see the separation of the sheep and the goats. To the sheep, He will declare “…‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”
What did they do to earn this, right? “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, aI was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
“Then he will say to those on his left (the goats), Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” The ones of the left will cry out, but God, when were you hungry? When were you thirsty? When were you naked? If we would’ve seen you in need, we would’ve helped!
Jesus then says,” ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’”
The charge against the lost ones did not concern any blatant moral violation, but their indifferent attitude toward Jesus (and His people). Their indifference sealed their doom.
We are commanded to LOVE our neighbors. Whether they are black or white. Whether they are Hispanic or Asian. Regardless of what their ethnicity is, we are commanded to LOVE them!
As Christians, we cannot afford to be indifferent to the suffering and the plights of our neighbors who don’t look like us. It’s a SIN to be partial to anyone based on their socioeconomic status, political affiliation, or their race. To do so is to violate the royal law of God. It’s not our job to think their perspective is valid. It’s our job to love them.
“The ‘guilt’ of the cursed arises not so much from doing wrong things as from failure to do right…to do nothing is seen as the road to condemnation.” (France)
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke
Too many Christians are lamenting the “virtue signaling” of the Christians who have chosen to stand in arms with our black brothers and sisters. I’ve read things like, “it’s not the church’s place to get involved in political topics, it’s our job to preach the Gospel.” I’ve even read the tired “all lives matter” and “all souls matter” in retaliation to those who would dare acknowledge their brother’s feelings.
Right now, we have humans who are HUNGRY for social reform and justice. THIRSTY for their voices to finally be heard. SICK and tired of being locked in a PRISON, muzzled, and ignored.
This IS NOT a political movement. This is a human rights movement. The Church cannot afford to remain silent. We cannot afford to be indifferent. Jesus is watching our response. Jesus is watching how we react to what is happening. We have two choices. (1) Indifference; (2) LOVE. True LOVE always requires ACTION.
I choose to stand. I choose to LOVE. I choose to speak out. I choose to model Christ in more than how I treat those who are like me but also in how I treat those who are different.
If you can ignore the hurt, the pain, and the frustration of fellow humans… If you are indifferent to the plight of millions of people… then you need to reexamine what it means to love God. To TRULY love God, means you would UNCONDITIONALLY love people. Even those you may not understand.
The love of many has grown cold. Only those who “endure unto the end” shall be saved. Endure – literally means to remain, not recede, not flee. Those who choose to love, even when it’s not easy. Those who choose to love, at the expense of their own comforts. Those who choose to love, even when you make enemies with people who should be your friends. Those people. The ones who LOVE God more than anything else. The ones who LOVE people in the same way they LOVE themselves. Those people will be saved. (Doctrine withstanding)
There isn’t anyone on the planet that you are more merciful towards… There isn’t anyone on the planet that you are more forgiving of… There isn’t a person on the planet that you excuse, justify, and validate anymore than yourself.
Extend that same love to others.
It’s what Jesus demands of us.