THE REALITY OF OUR CALL AS CHRISTIANS IN THE WORK OF THE GOSPEL, SAYS WE SHALL EXPERIENCE DISCOURAGEMENTS IN VARIOUS FORMS.
There will be heartaches, there will be setbacks; we shall be frustrated by our own flesh and the devil and this world.
In as much as the church is a glorious work, we need to remember that it is composed of fallen but redeemed sinners, living in a world of people who reject God. The imperfections of fallen humanity can indeed at times, hobble the high hopes and even our joy in serving the Lord.
There will be discouragement OUTSIDE THE CHURCH.
We will greatly be helped if we will realize that there will be opposition to the name of God from people who don’t follow Him. Even in this day and age of great tolerance the true Gospel is still very much met with fierce opposition and “dagger looks”.
- The Lord did say, “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.” (Matthew 5:11).
The reality of being a Christian and a faithful Christian church is that there will really be people who hate us.
At this point, even if you think they’re the most respectable citizen of our society or a wonderful neighbor or a loving relative or a first class friend or a beloved family member, for as long as they’re not in Christ, they can be a very real source of discouragement for us.
There will be discouragement INSIDE THE CHURCH.
DEMAS. This was very painful for the apostle Paul because Demas was obviously a trusted worker. If Mark was useful for ministry to Paul, perhaps Demas much more. But he left Paul. He not only left Paul but the work as well. And the way he left tells us that the way he left was like a mouse running away from a cat. He left as quickly as possible. It’s possible that he realize the kind of death that Paul was sentenced to could also be his death. And he did not want to die that way, so he left. His leaving, tells us that he is obviously not a believer at all. He did not want to die for the Gospel. He was probably useful to Paul when the going was quite easy, but when the heat was turned up, he left.
- THERE WILL BE PEOPLE FROM WITHIN THE CHURCH ITSELF THAT WILL TURN OUT TO BE PAINFUL DISCOURAGEMENTS. Turning out to be unbelievers in the way they will leave the work of the Lord. (To be clear, not every departure tells us that they are not believers). But there will be departures from the church that shall obviously tell anyone that they were seeds planted on shallow soil. Just like the traitorous act of Judas, there will be Judases in the life of any true church. Those days, shall be painful days indeed.
Can we imagine that happening to one of us? If one of us had a hearing and it was crucial for majority of the church to be present to convince the judge of that brother or sister’s innocence, wouldn’t it be discouraging if no one showed?
The discouragement of walking alone.
It was obviously painful and frustrating for Paul to be left alone just like that.
If we were in his position, we would have been asking, “I thought we were supposed to love one another, encourage one another. Where did that all go?”
This is perhaps one of the reasons why Paul wanted Timothy to come over as soon as he could, “Make every effort to come to me soon”.
- He is a prisoner in a cold, Roman dungeon, awaiting his second trial before Nero, and death. Great soul that he was, he yet needed and craved human fellowship and sympathy in his hour of trial.
THE CHRISTIAN’S WALK SHALL INDEED BE A VERY LONELY ONE AT TIMES. The Lord Himself was abandoned by His disciples when He was arrested; the most outspoken of all of them denied Him three times.
Not every time shall we have the comfort of pursuing the work of the Gospel with brethren beside us. Not every time shall we have fellow churches standing beside us in the truth. At some point they can become weak and we shall be left alone.
Do we realize this?
- Not to realize this truth, even hobbles us into moving forward, for fear that walking alone in Gospel truth could mean that we are on the side of error. Not necessarily.
This is one reason why we should really count the cost in following Jesus Christ. Because Christianity is not for those who seek popularity or an alternative to their boring life. The loneliness or isolation that we can feel in the Christian’s reality can be very confusing, enshrouding and penetrating.
- I guess this is doubly true for missionaries. I can imagine, if the fight for the Gospel can make pastors, believers and whole churches feel very alone, in the midst of a multitude of churches, what more missionaries who don’t have that many churches around them? What more faithful brethren?
- That’s why to be a missionary, just as Paul was, as with many other brethren throughout church history is indeed a very unique calling. And that is even one reason why it is absolutely imperative for us to be praying for missionaries. There is a great potential for jagged discouragement in feeling isolated.
- Many times it is the fear of walking alone that trips us into making all sorts of compromises—just to have the seeming approval of men; their love; their support.
- We must remember that when Jesus Christ was arrested, not one disciple went with Him. During His trial before the Sanhedrin, the foremost, outspoken apostle, Peter, could not even affirm his love nor loyalty to the Savior. They left Jesus by Himself.
PAINFUL DISCOURAGEMENTS WILL COME. THEY ARE PART OF OUR LIVES AS BELIEVERS. THEY WILL COME FROM BOTH OUTSIDE THE CHURCH AND SADLY WITHIN, BRINGING UPON US MANY DISCOURAGING SITUATIONS.
(To be Followed by Great Encouragements. Soon!)