Well, it's that time of year again. 2016 is breathing its last and the new year is approaching rapidly. It isn't
unusual, it happens every 365 (and a quarter for you sticklers) days. But there are only so many January firsts that
the average person has to enjoy before our existence on this Earth is over. For us Christians, we have an eternal
life awaiting us in Heaven, promised through the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross. But, we still have
this life to live and grow and spread His word as we are commanded in Matthew:
“Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”. Matthew 28:19 (NIV)
Now, this can be, and is, taken literally by thousands, even millions of people the world over. They leave their old lives behind and trust in the Lord to travel to foreign lands where they use their skills and personalities to love and share the Gospel with those who haven't heard God's word. Others take time, vacations for instance, to travel short-term in order to assist those who have made a life on the mission field. These people learn about the glory of God by witnessing, first hand, the miracles that He blesses people with. I, myself, witnessed a few of these miracles when I travelled to Sverdlovskiya, Russia with my pastors to assist a missionary there. It was then I realized that I didn't go there to “save” anyone, but to be a witness. I was given the opportunity to share with others the things that I, personally, had seen Him do to change hearts, not just of the lost by using the missionaries to lead them to Christ, but by changing the hearts of the un-churched—government officials for example—who have the power to deny or allow His work to be done at all.
Then there are those who have been called to the ministry to become pastors, youth ministers, worship leaders, deacons or other leadership roles within their home churches. There are countless ways in which we can serve the Lord. It may be in the choir, teaching a Sunday School class, serving as an AWANA leader, or coaching Upward basketball. You can be part of the team that does the cooking for church dinners and bar-b-ques. You can help organize Boston Butt fund raisers, or volunteer as an event coordinator. There are writers, like me, who develop devotionals, Bible studies, or write monthly columns for men's ministry websites. Whatever capacity in which you choose to serve, you need to know that your contribution to God's kingdom is vital to the survival of the church. And you also need to be aware that you will face opposition.
In this country of late, Christianity is under attack. We might even feel as if we are being discriminated against or even oppressed. In the last several years it has seemed, at least to me, that even our right to free speech has been infringed upon. But in the vast majority of cases, regardless of how much the enemy tries, he does not prevail. There are many places in the world where simply being a Christian might get you attacked physically or even killed, but not here in the United States—at least not yet. Here we still have protections that are difficult for the enemy to overcome. And even when the enemy, whose world this is, might seem to have the upper hand, we still have the power of prayer on our side. Never forget that. Through Jesus, we have power over the enemy.
Even so, we might still get discouraged. We may even lose hope because of the criticism, anger, and ridicule that we may endure for our faith. We needn't. In the book of James, it says;
“Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” James 1:2-3 (NIV)
For the first time in years, I can look at our government with hope and I think that we, you and I, have played a role in that change with prayer.
“If my people, who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)
We have an incoming president who admits that Christianity is under attack and has vowed, very publicly, to fight for us, saying things on national television like “Merry Christmas” and “God bless you all and God bless the United States.” Personally, I believe that if the man whom he is replacing even uttered those syllables, even by mistake, he might burst into flames on the spot!
I'm only kidding.
The point that I'm trying to make is that we will always face opposition. It may be a snide remark or an unkind word about something that we've worked hard on, not for our own glory, but for His, made by someone that we consider a colleague, a friend, or someone we respect or even admire. Or it might even be because we don't get recognized for our hard work by those same people. Whatever the case, we must not get discouraged because we have a place in His kingdom, both in Heaven and here on Earth, for as long as He allows us to breath His air and speak His word. We are on a mission and we must not fail. We must look to our brothers and sisters for support and we must always be supportive. A kind word goes a very long way!
The battle is on!