Mark 13:1-13
“Relationships For Survival”
November 15 2015
“Survivor” was one of the first of the ‘reality shows” on TV. The plot of the series is pretty simple. A group of folks are placed on an island or a deserted area with very little provisions and had to survive on the island. The person who won would get 1 million dollars. Not all that difficult, except for some of the other rules that had to be followed. First, they were split into teams and the teams competed against each other in various contests. The team that won certain contests received certain things that would help them in their survival. The last rule that had to be followed was that each night a conference was held and the person that was considered to be the weakest or least fit for survival, or even the one who had made the most people mad, were voted off the island. So not only were the contestants competing against each other in teams and against the elements, but they were actually competing against each other to survive.
I watched the show some, but not a lot. I really don’t like the way it teaches that the world is a place where we all are against each other, where only the strong survive, and where the weak are pushed aside. I feel that this really goes against the Gospel. It goes against the teachings of Jesus, who teaches that we can all have faith in Christ and work together to help each other and others in the world.
I see faith as the only thing we can have for survival in the world. I see sharing our faith with each other and the world as the only tools we can use for true survival in the world.
Let me ask you a question. Have you ever had one of those days when it seemed that life was too much for you to handle? Have you ever felt that life was too much for you and that things and people you thought you could trust suddenly became untrustworthy, and at almost every direction you turned things seem to be “caving in” around you and nothing appears to be as it used to be? Ever had one of those days? I would dare say that we all can identify with days like that. I know that I can. We’ve all had days like that. There are indeed times in our lives when nothing seems to make sense like it used to. Sometimes it may seem that times of confusion, anger, frustration, and pain are the norm instead of the exception for life. There are times you may feel that you have reached “the end of your rope” and need help to live in some semblance of peace and security. Life, indeed, can give you a lot to handle, and sometimes it may seem that it is just too much. The terrorist attack in Paris a few days ago reminds us that there are hard, terrible, devastating and violent times in our world.
So what happens in those times? Do you just get “voted off the island”, or dismissed with no help at all?
In our Gospel passage from Mark 13 Jesus is describing for His disciples what lies in store for them, and what will happen to them. It is a very bad picture Jesus is painting for Peter, Andrew, James, and John. By the time Jesus finishes telling them what will happen to them, they may have wished they hadn’t asked. It is indeed not an easy life Jesus is describing for His disciples. Just look at what Jesus says will happen. First He says the temple will be destroyed. Then He says that people will be misled by others claiming to be Christ, and that there will be wars and rumors of wars, earthquakes, famines, and other horrible things. Then He says that these things are just the beginning. Not only will this be going on for those who believe in Christ, but they will also be persecuted. Even their own families will turn against them. Indeed , they had a lot of difficult days and a lot of hard times to look forward to.
They probably wondered how they were going to survive. Were they supposed to just give up at times like these? No, Jesus did not mean for the disciples to give up or vote each other out of the group when these things and things like them happened.
There are times in our lives when we can identify with the disciples, so I hope Jesus saw a way out, a way to cope, a way to survive, for the disciples and for us.
So what does it take to survive these confusing, frustrating, scary times in life? If the disciples were going to survive, what did they need? If you are going to survive, what do you need?
They needed a relationship with Christ and with other believers. You need a relationship with Christ and with other believers. Jesus talks about persecutions and hard times, but He also gives a strong, positive assurance. In the midst of these hard times they do not have to fear but Jesus promises strength to face the hard times. These are assurances that can strengthen us, just as they strengthened the disciples. In the face of hard and almost unbearable days, Jesus says to rely on God, and rely on the promise that God will provide strength.
Jesus says that the one who endures to the end will be saved. But how do you endure? How can you “endure to the end”? How can you survive?
It takes relationships. Not plotting or proving yourself better than others or forming groups against each other, but what I call relationships for survival. I see two types of relationships needed for survival in the confusing, frustrating, and scary times of life. These relationships are stronger than anything else.
First and foremost it takes a strong, personal relationship with Christ. Without a strong, personal relationship with Christ it doesn’t matter what other relationships you may have, you are not going to be able to “endure to the end and be saved” as Jesus promised you would be able to do. Without this relationship with Christ, you have no chance for salvation, and no chance for survival in the hard times of life. You need to have a personal, life-changing relationship with Christ and feel His power in your life. To endure, to be saved, to cope and triumph in this world and in the world to come, a personal relationship with Christ is needed.
When you think you are at the “end of your rope”, come to Christ. He understands suffering. The cross proved that. But He is victorious over suffering. The resurrection proved that. In times of hardships, come to Christ. Establish a relationship with Christ. This is the only way to endure through the hard times of our lives. This is the only way to
“endure to the end and be saved”.
Come to Christ and build that life-changing relationship with Christ before the hard times and sufferings occur, so you will know how to have a relationship with Christ when you need it the most. Establish a relationship with Christ and let Christ work in your life. Let Christ bless and strengthen you so that in the hard, confusing, frustrating and scary times you can recall what Christ has already done for you in your life and know that if He has done so much for you in the past, and your present situation isn’t any problem for Him at all. Let Christ bless you so that in those confusing, frustrating, and scary times you can say: “Look at what all He’s already done for me in my life. Surely the situation I’m in now is no problem for Him.”
The first relationship you need for survival is a life-changing relationship with Christ. But there is still another relationship you need, and even though it is not as important as your relationship with Christ it is still vital, and that is your relationship with other Christians. It is the fellowship you share with others that can help you in the confusing, frustrating, and scary times of life. These are relationships that are built in the Church. As a member of the Church, you can find the love and support you need for the “hard times”, and also offer love and support to others.
You need to be active in the life, worship, fellowship and outreach of the Church so you can know the members of the Church, then be willing to support them and let them support you.
Look for ways to be active in the worship and fellowship and outreach of the Church, then support the members through life’s struggles, as well as being willing to let others help you in your hard times. In fact, look for ways to support each other before there are hard times. Kind words to others and words of affirmation, letting others know that you appreciate what they do in the Church, letting others know what they mean to you and the Church as a whole, or volunteering to help others with the work they do in the Church, will build the relationships you need and make it easier to turn to each other in the hard times of life. Pray for others and don’t be afraid or embarrassed to let others know you are praying for them. Letting others know they are appreciated, loved, and surrounded by prayer will help build up the love the members of the Church have for each other and will help us in the Church be able to turn to each other when there is truly a need. That active participation in the life of the Church, the love you share with others, others, prayers you lift up for others, and the support you feel from others and others feel from you are vital for you as an individual and us as a Church.
Jesus says that the one who endures to the end will be saved. This takes relationships. Relationships with Christ and with each other.
Build up and strengthen your personal relationship with Christ. Let Christ show you how He has helped you through hard times in the past, and can certainly help you through the confusing, frustrating, and scary times of life now and in the future.
Then become active in the Church. Become active in the work of the church and work at building up the bond of relationships we have between each other in the Church. In that way we can all benefit from the relationships we build.
A life-changing relationship with Christ. A relationship of love and support with each other in the Church. You won’t find these things on the TV “Survivor” show, – but believe me, these are the things you need. These are the relationships you need for survival. Amen.