READ: Proverbs 9, Mark 13, 1 Peter 5

COMPETING CALLS

Wisdom or Folly. Both wisdom and folly spread an alluring banquet and they share an identical invitation. “Whoever is simple, let him turn in here” (Prov. 9:4, 16). Both wisdom and folly offer pleasure, and both call for our indulgence. Wisdom presents relationship and knowledge of the Holy one (v. 10); as its main course we are invited to feast on Jesus. Folly offers short-term sensual revelry. The wisest thing we can do is settle into the discipline of knowing Jesus over time–a long-term joy. The most foolish thing we can do is to work towards immediate gratification, short-term joys whose price tag is long-term sorrow.

Endurance or Escape. The Spirit invites the Christian to endure suffering and flesh counsels to escape it. Mark 13 unpacks this competing call. We are promised a time of great tribulation. We can choose to be a witness of the sufferings of Christ and a partaker in their glory (1 Peter 5:1); we can choose to be hated by all and betrayed by brothers (Mark 13:12-13); or we can choose to avoid persecution, escaping it by refusing to allow the Holy Spirit to speak through us (v. 11). In the big scheme of things, followers of Jesus must be cautious that their eschatology is not framed by a wrongheaded theology of suffering. If we look at rapture primarily as a means to escape suffering, we have missed a central component of the gospel–the willingness to suffer that others might be saved. The biblical norm indicates that God’s primary means of deliverance is endurance. He walks with us through trial and trouble. Mark 13:13 bluntly says, “He who endures to the end will be saved.”

Devoured or Delivered. Both God and Satan restlessly search the earth for opportunity. Our “adversary the devil walks about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:9), while “the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him” (2 Chron. 16:9). Life exposes us to the potential of evil on a constant basis. We deploy missionaries to contexts of violence with the twin understanding that we are sending them into harm’s way (the devil’s domain), and we are committing them into the hands of a faithful creator who stands strong for those who stand for Him.

Followers of Jesus constantly are presented with choices, competing calls. Wisdom and folly issue the same invitation. Suffering offers the opportunity to either escape (and be worse off for it) or to endure (and to find unexpected joy). Daily life exposes us both to the danger of the devil and the delight of being defended by God. Those that choose wisdom will be empowered to endure and will be marvelously delivered.

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