As Christians, we should be engaged in God’s redemptive work in the world. We should weep over wickedness, sympathize with the suffering, and strive to set set wrongs right. We should be vested in the holiness of the global and local church, and endeavor to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
In short, we shouldn’t walk through life apathetic. But do you ever feel frantic or hopeless about the state of the world? I do. Not incessantly, just sometimes.
I read a news article about another victim of a hate crime or child abuse and my heart races, not again! I hear statistics about porn addiction, the opioid epidemic, or the thriving industry of buying and selling people as if they were property and ask, will it ever end? I see the bitter vitriol spewed towards Christians—some of it deserved, some not—and wonder, how can we possibly impact the world if we’re hated this much?
And if it’s not the world stirring these troubled musings, it’s the church.
I look at the growing numbers of heretical teachers who influence millions of people to embrace a false gospel—perhaps one that promises heath and wealth for those who pray hard enough, or whispers sweetly of total autonomy instead of humble submission to God. I consider people and places where doctrine is sound but hearts are cold, and good news is preached without demonstrating how it transforms us. There is greed instead of generosity, apathy towards the oppressed, and a stronger dedication to fitness regimes and climbing corporate ladders than being faithful to the mission.
If these worries aren’t welling up, my mind might wander to specific individuals.
That friend drifting away from God. That fractured relationship that hasn’t healed. That lost soul in need of salvation. That marriage falling apart. That person spreading gossip.
Or, I’m troubled by me. Will I ever overcome that sin tendency? Will I make it through this trial? Will I run the race well, as a good and faithful servant of God?
Our worries might be provoked by different types of situations, but we can all feel a little frantic at times.
And when we do, we have forgotten that God has already won.
The world is not actually spinning out of control. God reigns, just as he always has. He has numbered every hair on your head and grain of sand on the ocean floor. He cannot be manipulated because he already knows every thought and intention of every heart. Nothing—no king, no ruler, no boss, no movement, no war, no disaster—can thwart his good and perfect will. He will execute justice. He will not let the wicked go unpunished or anyone hidden in him go unhealed. He will redeem our broken world.
Those problems in the church? They’re nothing new. From the New Testament all the way until now, even at its best the church is dysfunctional. But it’s beautiful too, a testimony of the fidelity of Christ to his Bride. What God has established no one can dismantle—not even the gates of hell will prevail against it. God will carry us through the painful process of being purified—leading us through fire and disciplining us in love until we become what he’s intended.
And that person is not a hopeless cause. God can convict and comfort and restore. There is no heart so hard that he cannot soften it or so broken that he cannot heal it. There is no wanderer too far that he cannot bring them home. There is nothing—no person, no situation, no trial, no pain—that he cannot redeem.
And as for me, and really all Christians, the God who began a good work in us will carry it to completion. He has not left us on our own—he’s given his word to anchor us, his Spirit to transform us, and his people to minister to us.
We need not feel frantic or hopeless. God has already won.