The world is really messy right now.
The church in the US is in its most challenging season in history.
Working with pastors, ministry leaders and churches I see a lot of conflict and crisis, especially lately. It is really easy to get discouraged, defeated and even hopeless.
That said, things are not hopeless. In fact, hope abounds. Here are three reasons I am hopeful for the church right now.
God’s faithfulness is not shaped by our circumstances.
It seems like an obvious statement, but it bears stating because I (and we) easily forget this fact. God is, has been and will be faithful regardless of our circumstances. Our circumstances change; God and God’s faithfulness do not. We allow our circumstances to dictate our perspectives, attitudes, words and actions. We know better, but we lose perspective easily. The enemy loves to use our circumstances to distract us.
Jesus has conquered greater challenges than the ones we face right now.
In every single season for the entirety of my short life, people have tried to convince me that today is the worst moment in the church, the country or our world. Over and over again they are wrong. Over and over again we manage to survive. I am not sure that the news stories have changed much over my lifetime, except maybe just the names, locations and weapons. Again, Jesus conquered death. The challenges we face pale in comparison to what most people have experienced in any moment of history. We are still here.
In the midst of the greatest challenges, we find the greatest potential.
In the midst of the greatest challenges, come the greatest opportunities for revival and renewal. The beauty of worshiping a redemptive God is that God takes the ugly and creates beauty out of it. We see it over and over again in the scriptures. If we stop and look, we see it over and over again in our lives. A colleague of mine often liked to say, ‘our God wastes nothing.’ God wants to take the bad and make it new. It is in our times of greatest pain and desperation that we finally lean and rely on God.
The Christian faith is a faith built on, centered in and marked by hope. We worship a resurrected Jesus. If God can conquer death, that nothing we face is beyond hope.
Rev. Dr. Marcus J. Carlson, Executive Director