“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14–16 (ESV)
We are living in an interesting time in the history of mankind. Social/political unrest, natural disasters, constant conflicts, and viruses have dominated social media and news outlets. It seems there is a constant flow of dangers, threats, and warnings coming from every side.
The church has also faced a barrage of difficult challenges. Services canceled, people not returning, moral absolutes being challenged, and internal conflicts have been overwhelming. Pastors and church leaders have faced incredible challenges in navigating a hostile world while doing their best to win, disciple, and release people into ministry.
The Work of the Church Is Not Easy
Yet the Word has never promised that the work of the kingdom would be easy. Those that are considered heroes of the faith, faced insurmountable odds when presenting the gospel in a hostile world. The threats of imprisonment and execution were looming large, but the church continued to preach the gospel in difficult days.
The Bible gives great analogies that help us picture what the church is like in times like this. The church is compared to athletes, farmers, and soldiers. Each one facing challenges yet fulfilling their role with perseverance and dedication. Let’s face it, the ministry has and always will be tough.
The Early Church Faced Insurmountable Challenges!
Looking back at the first three centuries of the church, we see the body of believers doing the best of things in the most difficult of times. They faced an environment far more brutal, violent, and oppressive to our faith than we as Americans face today.
These believers were burned at the stake, used as torches to light streets, fed to lions in arenas, and were brutally tortured for their faith. Yet, regardless of the threats they faced, these believers were faithful to the core of who they were. Their faithfulness being empowered by the Spirit encouraged them to continue and see supernatural results.
While I don’t downplay the challenges that the church is facing today, we must recognize that with every challenge comes the opportunity to do what is right. One thing that I have learned is that I cannot control how others respond, but I am responsible for how I respond. When I do what is right, regardless of what others do, I can rest in the fact that I have been faithful no matter what the outcome.
What right thing must we be doing in this day to reach the world and walk rightly before them?
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation. 1 Peter 2:9–12 (ESV)
Let me give you five things from this passage that we must do today as a church in a hostile world.
- Proclaim the excellencies of God who called you out of darkness into light.
- Live humbly knowing that you have been given the gift of mercy from God.
- Abstain from worldly passions of the flesh and guard your soul against the pull of the world.
- Keep your conduct honorable and show God’s love by doing good to others.
- Always point people to God and remove the focus from glorifying self.
When we apply these to our walk with the Lord and the journey we take with others, we may just find that it becomes the best of times for the church. Yes, the world may increase its pressure on the church and we may see greater persecution. But if we do ministry well, it may just turn out to be the most opportune time for harvest!
As we commit ourselves to the mission that Jesus called his church to and are empowered by the Spirit, we must do the best things scripture teaches. For those who will make an impact in today’s world, we must be committed to the non-negotiable elements of effective ministry.
Commit to doing the best things in the worst of times!
Check out how this Journey Series started: Journey to 300~Day 1: New Beginnings