9“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Jesus was asked by his disciples about the end of the age. It is a question that is common even today. What are we supposed to look for? How will we know when it gets here? I have written from various angles on this subject over the last few months. You can see my musings about the need to pay attention to the timetable that God has used in the past and will use in the future since He is still using it now. You can see my opinions about some folks who appear to have way too much time on their hands. Or another more general post about God’s message to us about His plan here. The point is that it is human nature to wonder about these things.
This week a story struck me and called to mind Matthew 24:12. The story was titled Frozen in indifference and it is a sad one of a dead man encased in ice in an abandoned warehouse and ignored by dozens of people who all assume that someone else will call the police to report the body. I am not putting this out as some kind of sick pun on Christ’s words. Instead it is a graphic depiction of a society whose love has gone as cold as ice. Jesus says that this will happen because of an increase in wickedness and He could have easily been looking ahead to our day. We have stories in the media of mothers and fathers who forget that a child is in the car and leave them to die accidentally and tragically. We have stories of mothers and fathers who murder their own children and often themselves as well. Millions of babies are killed every year before they ever have a chance to draw a breath and we sigh and move on to the next story. Has our love grown cold? Can we find a way in God’s grace to rekindle our love and let it burn hot and bright for those around us?
Maybe we can. A funny thing happened tonight to me and the more I think about it; the more I am amazed. I went into our local small box store to get some video cables. When I got to the register, there were two ladies checking out. One was almost done (she works there and was just getting off for the night and it sounded like she had had a rough day) and the other lady had a cart load of stuff. I figured that I would be standing there patiently waiting my turn and I wasn’t in any big hurry, but the lady in line offered to let me jump ahead with my one item. As I was getting my item and paying for it, I thanked the lady behind me for being so kind. The lady in front of me was still getting her stuff put into her cart to leave and so I said to the cashier first, “have a good night” and then said, “I hope all of you have a good night.” At that, the lady in front of me said, “Oh sure, I bet you wouldn’t even give me a hug if I asked for one.”
Frankly I still don’t know why I did it. It was one of those God moments I guess. I looked at her and said, “why not, everyone needs a hug sometimes.” Here I was, hugging this lady I don’t really know in the front of a box retail store and it was the oddest thing. The atmosphere seemed a little lighter and in that one simple act of hugging a stranger, a little warmth and love was shared.
Let me be the first to say that I can’t imagine how this whole event took place. I couldn’t have planned it, and wouldn’t have pictured myself doing something like that in a million years. But it does have me thinking. Can we still be warm in a world that has gone cold in its love?