Jesus told us (v8) not to be enamored of the "prophets" who predict the end. But we do see signs. We all know of Jerusalem surrounded by armies and divided. We see the earth groaning from exploitation, with species disappearing at an alarming rate and dangerous CO2 levels. We see endless conflict and an economic meltdown that threatens to get worse.
How do we react to these "signs?" Are we paralyzed by fear? Or driven by fear to hunker down and protect ourselves and our families? Do we raise up more and more weapons and soldiers, and look for hedge investments to protect us when others are wiped out?
Jesus suggests another way: "stand up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near." One way to look at this is to hear Jesus say: "Don't be distracted by fear and self-protection. Be a sign of the new life in God's kingdom that I have been telling you about."
God's kingdom, Jesus has said, is a place where perfect love casts out fear, and where God provides sustanance for everyone (as the birds and the flowers). It is a place where the lion lays down with the lamb, swords are beaten into plowshares, the rich provide for the poor.
In the midst of the anxiety and uncertainty of our times (which, truthfully, is the anxiety of *every* time), what does it look like for us to be signs of God's kingdom?