Summary: Any individual working in the many fields of ministry will face the challenge of disillusionment. When I first got into ministry work I had some naïve notions about it.
Any individual working in the many fields of ministry will face the challenge of disillusionment. When I first got into ministry work I had some naïve notions about it. I was hoping to find a burgeoning vibrant Christianity rallying unified, as one, carrying the gospel like intrepid soldiers into the depths of the darkness of the world.
Now don't get me wrong, that certainly does take place. But it's much more a mixed bag than that. There are some who live it out, and some who do not. In some church movements the idlers may be the majority, in the others the activists may be the majority.
I was hoping to see Finney-Edwards style revivals take place, I was hoping to lead dozens of people to Christ each year. Unfortunately it hasn't happened that way.
Then again, there's nothing wrong with having hopes such as those. We should dream big dreams and hope for great transformations.
The daily in and out however can become tiring and weary-some. Dr. Ravi Zacharias called it the "horror of the monotonous." Day in and day out watching lives not changing, watching the news, hearing about terrorist attacks, learning about the millions of abortions year round, and watching the numbers slowly decline from churches across the country. It's very challenging. Then we see other Christians, who we think ought to be rallying against the night. But instead they are idle. They seem to be thoroughly inactive for Christ. And it frustrates us.
Further still we begin to see in ourselves more and more so our own failings and inadequacies. We see that the sin problem is not just outside us, but within us. We struggle with it on a daily basis and we wonder, how can we do a good thing in the world when the problem is not just around us but within us? And how can we make a difference?
Yet we keep fighting to make a difference. On the horizon we see entire church movements beginning to turn against sound biblical teachings on marriage and the sanctity of life. We see relativism invading the church. We may even see it gaining ground in our church movements. This is terribly disturbing to us because we know every word of the Bible is God's word, and we know that if the church declares sin to be holy, then the darkness has indeed become powerful within us.
So we raise our voices to challenge these false doctrines. Yet we are told to be quiet. We told to stopping being so judgmental. We are told we need to be more accepting and inclusive. Yet we know that God's word doesn't change. And to love someone is to tell them the truth, even if it's hard to tell them it.
Yet we also find great reason for hope. Africa has gone from 2% Christian to near 50% Christian. The fastest growing Christian movement in the world today is in China of all places. South Korea has a massive Christian presence. The new atheists and the secular progressives had proclaimed the demise of religion at the turn of the 21st century. Yet their predictions of disaster for Christianity failed to materialize. In fact Christianity is stronger in the world today than at any previous point in history. We see the gospel finding new means of distribution and propagation through social media, blogs, apps, radio stations, television, and websites. We see charities like Compassion flourishing and reaching millions of poor youths for Christ.
So we've noticed it's a mixed bag. There are many wonderful things happening (though they never make the news) and there is a lot of apathy and relativism in the church. Is this odd? Is this a strange circumstance to find the Christian church in? Absolutely not. Why? I'd like to direct your attention to Matthew 13:24-30 (NLT).
Jesus said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds also grew.
“The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’
“‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.
“‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked.
“‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’”
Jesus told us in his parables that within the kingdom, the wheat and the weeds are being allowed to grow together. In fact in the parable Jesus specifically tells his servants not to attempt to uproot the weeds or the wheat might be accidentally uprooted instead.