“And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold.”   Matthew 24:12

Matthew 24 is also known as The Olivet Discourse. Jesus is with His disciple, alone, and starts telling them about the end times.  Verse 12 above is one of the things Jesus told His disciples – and us – to watch for.

My wife works retail in a nice area, but the rampant, brazen shoplifting is appalling. Traffic here in Memphis is a bit nuts, and people go swinging across lanes at the drop of a hat.  I drive a lot as a factory rep; I was almost killed on I-40 about a month ago.  Yet another trucker was speeding through the Smokies, lost it in a curve coming toward me, and his trailer almost slapped me off the side of the mountain as it broke up on the barrier.

Business: it’s only wrong if you can’t get away with it. I’ve seen upper management do the very garbage they tell the rank and file not to.

And now the latest story you may have heard from Caracas Venezuela. A man was believed to have stolen $5 from an elderly man.  He was beat senseless.  Then they poured gasoline on him, lit him up, and watched him burn as he staggered about, trying to escape his own inferno.

A passerby tried to help him, only to be pelted by debris. He managed to get the man to a hospital.  His wife came.  All he could say was he didn’t do it.  He died two days later.

Witnesses say he did it. He denied it before he died.  His family – Christians all – deny he ever would.  In the extreme poverty of Caracas, was he tempted to grab a few bucks to feed his kids?  Well, it doesn’t matter.  Is killing someone over $5 worth it?

The people who killed him are proud of their actions. Theft and murder are so out of control, the police built a thick wall around their building and barricade themselves inside.  No one reports crimes, because the police are overwhelmed and can do nothing.

So people become vigilantes. It’s cathartic for them.  There’s some satisfaction to know that they got someone, even if it might be the wrong someone.  Everyone is hopeless.  There’s nothing left but to fend for yourself and get your own justice.

“And because of the increase of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold.”

Governments collapse. People go crazy.  Love for fellow man turns to murder for the sheer release of frustration, if nothing else.

Fortunately, this is just the beginning of the story. It gets better right at the end.  Even during these opening chapters the news can be dealt with.

“I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”   John 16:33

We can see what’s happening. We can hold to our faith, because “…the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this good news[d] of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.”  Matthew 24:13-14

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