I love the band, The Clash! Their name is also fitting for our study of this time period in history when society and followers of Jesus “clashed”. There is a line in their song, “Should I Stay or Should I Go” that says, ” If I go there will be trouble, And if I stay it will be double”. Christianity was built on the blood of the Martyrs; men and women who would not worship other gods and would not turn from their relationship with Jesus.
Mark 13:13-16 (TNIV)
13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but those who stand firm to the end will be saved. 14 “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak.
In these words of Jesus we see a couple of things.
Daniel 11:31 (TNIV)
“His armed forces will rise up to desecrate the temple fortress and will abolish the daily sacrifice. Then they will set up the abomination that causes desolation.
What is this mysterious “abomination that causes desolation”? It refers to the desecration of the temple by God’s enemies. In AD 40 the Emperor Caligula, proclaiming himself god ordered the erection of a statue of himself in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem which, of course, was an abomination to Jewish monotheism. Jesus prophesied the destruction of the world and a deeper persecution of the Jews (of which He was one). This happened in AD 70.
The second thing we see here is a warning. Clearly, Jesus is warning that in this coming day it would be better to flee because there would be a persecution (which there was).
“Should I stay or should I Go, if I go there will be trouble, and if I stay it will be double”.
Martyrdom for refusing to bow down to a pagan deity and from refusing to deny a relationship with the one true God, indeed, Jesus, is very different from fleeing in order to avert certain persecution. Paul did it and Jesus advised to do it! As a follower of Jesus, there is nothing in our character that would be diminished by fleeing certain persecution.
While severe trials will sift true followers of Jesus from those that will profess belief only when there is nothing to lose and things are looking good, as followers of Jesus, we must always realize that the endurance to end doesn’t earn salvation, it simply marks those who are already saved.
We need both the courage and wisdom that comes from a relationship with Jesus. When in doubt, ask God to tell you when to stay and when to go.