The parables Jesus uses to illustrate the days of ultimates for His generation teach us about endurance. The parables of Matthew 25 give His response to the destruction of Jerusalem He prophesies in Matthew 24. In way or another, we all see some parallels with other seasons of ultimates, generations that live through times when “things coming to pass” reveal that nations or cultures are reaching crisis and harvest nears for reaping what they’ve sown.
In any case, the parables are marked by a common theme: endurance. The Bridegroom tarried. The man went far away for a long time. The separation of sheep and goats arrives in a season of ultimate differentiation. Jesus closes His discussion of the destruction of Jerusalem, what will happen in His generation – this generation shall not end until – with a picture of a faithful, sensible servant as the one the Master can give responsibility for leadership over what is His possessions so that when He returns what He left will be in good shape, producing increase on investment, and His house and possessions in better shape because of his leadership.
The sense of enduring patience, faithfulness, and defining “success” in the Master’s terms appears throughout the discussion. “Most of what you are looking at will not be here when this generation ends,” He says, “But My stuff will last as long as history itself. Good leaders will endure, but they must endure even when it appears My return isn’t going to happen.”
Any sense of end times that calls us to a cave with a bag of beans isn’t consistent with Jesus’ discussion. The sense of “fleeing to mountains” is moving His possessions to a place where they can flourish, produce, and prosper. There is no “bury them in a hole” here. No, just the opposite! Burying Jesus’ stuff to protect it from danger is the heights of irresponsibility and unfaithfulness. Jesus makes it clear that no unrest, destruction, persecution, rejection, or chaos of human societies becomes an excuse to desert or archive His kingdom purposes!
For certain, wise servants have strategic understanding of how to make the most of the cultural shifts – I have great respect for that response! – but chucking the essentials in order to be part of an evil generation is betrayal, building bigger barns because you have decided to stop sowing and reaping is deadly, and altering the definitions of “kingdom” so that the original orders of Jesus are rewritten to fit the circumstances is treachery.
Jesus says that reaching His goals will require endurance, that some things necessary to success can only be realized through endurance, that without endurance we are always short in what we should be long.
Learning Personal Endurance
Sometimes I just can’t help crying out, “Don’t modern believers have Bibles?” I hear the most ridiculous and amazingly ignorant things being said to characterize what God thinks! If God ever rolls His eyes, I would suppose He rolls them when people project their own desires on His heart.
I remember having a discussion with a group of local leaders about several years ago about a verse of Scripture. I was simply saying, “Let the Bible speak before you determine what the Bible means.” The discussion involved one of those obvious, more-than-once revealed and discussed principles of Scripture. One teacher remained adamant, and when I said, “Well, if that is what the Bible says, we should understand how to implement this principle.” I’ll never forget how he stood up and began to say, “I don’t care what the–” and suddenly realized that he was getting ready to say, “I don’t care what the Bible says, I’m right!” before he caught himself.
Sometimes I think this sentiment influences modern christian thinking even though it is seldom said in those terms. We have found logical and reasonable ways to erase nearly all the principles of the Bible in order to accommodate our accepted practices and behaviors. Please understand that I’m not thinking, even once, of religious rules and checklists of right and wrong, I’m talking about the way God designed human life, society, kingdom, and Ecclesia to function.
Consider that nearly everything Jesus did and said has been removed from practice in the modern American church. Consider that nearly everyone of the works of flesh that war against works and fruit of spirit are excused away in what is accepted as Christian lifestyle, consider that what God wants for family, finance, physical body, faith, and friendship can be explained away. Consider that Scripture can be quoted to support humanism, evolutionary philosophy and worldview, that “Christian” universities and colleges can present a universe in which nothing works as the Bible says the universe works, and parents will still pay tens of thousands of dollars to send their children there. I do go on and on…
Anyway, among the things this distortion has produced is a distorted understanding of how God works in our lives. Yet, the Bible makes it clear that Father is intimately involved in discipling true children. The Scripture says that our response to His painful discipline is endurance.
There. Said it. Now comes the avalanche of denial and deafening discussion about how Father God does stuff. After a while, a person would think we know more about Father from Santa Claus, the Easter bunny, Superman’s parents, Bambi’s father, and the tooth fairy that from the Bible!
The Father has been redefined by humanistic updates on “how to rear children.” So that “daddies are there to give their children whatever they want.” While we certainly can sit on Daddy’s lap and receives His embrace, we can also get the backside of our laps rearranged with a willow wisp! Well, at least, that’s what the Bible says is pretty much the norm for authentic believers.
Our response is enduring submission. We make ourselves available to receive discipline, without resistance, without running away and demanding to be treated better or accepted as we are. Note the words: “respect, submit, painful, trained.” Note that such respect should be normal for earthly fathering leaders, but how much more this respect should be normal for Father’s authentic children. That is, it is normal for an authentic believer to desire discipline, seek accountability, and stay put for it until it has worked thoroughly and completely what it was designed to do!
This Scripture doesn’t preclude human fathering leadership. It assumes that we will respect that leadership as a basis for understanding a greater respect for “the Father of spirits.” The effects of one being temporal. The effects of the other being eternal. We should all be ready to help those weary with this enduring discipline experience so they won’t quit! We should also make the path people are walking as clear and simple as possible so that no matter the condition of people walking this path of discipling will become strong.
The point? Endurance is learned, developed, and essential, and discipling leadership must produce endurance if it is to be successful in discipling. Endurance is what the Father is after in His people because endurance keeps them in process to be teachable and transformable lest they short-circuit what He is doing to help them reach fullness so they can fulfill destiny and purpose.
Marking the Endurable People
While I would love, as a father, to protect my children from any pain, I am responsible as a father to administer strategic discomfort. I find my description of people as “quitters” rather harsh, but I’m trying to find a better way to characterize the behavior of people being prepared for leadership who simply don’t wish to endure patiently the process of preparation. When the going gets tough, they quit. I call that “quitting” and people who practice it “quitters.” I don’t mean that as harshly as it sounds, but I also don’t wish to make the practice seem less serious than it is. Why? Because this quitting short-circuits their realization of destiny fulfillment.
Quitters enter their futures less prepared to obey God because they lack the deeper experiences that submission provides them.
Jesus learned obedience. How? By what He suffered. He endured by submitting to Father’s pathway for His preparation, endured what He could have avoided, but His submission prepared Him for His obedience, and He was completed in order to become the Source of eternal salvation for those that obey Him.
The ones who obey Him will learn obedience by what they suffer, by what their submission keeps them in place to experience so they are prepared as authentic children to inherit and fulfill purpose. Without this process, they are ready. Father knows exactly what they need to experience in order to be ready, and He faithfully provides the discipline needed for that readiness. Obedience requires the strength of will that submission allows us to experience.