What are you willing to face?
What is ahead for the church, the big Church, the Body of Christ? Many people are speculating many different things. The goal here isn’t to predict the specifics of what I think will happen over the next few years, but rather to give us a hope to pray into. So here we go.
One of my least favorite verses is John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
But if I must think about that verse – I do love the way The Passion Translation states it: “And everything I’ve taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world, you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!”
Why is it my least favorite? Because I don’t like trouble, tribulation, persecution. I like things to remain calm and consistent. I don’t like feelings of fear, dread, unrest, anger. ‘Can’t we all just get along,’ could very well be my motto. But I know the answer is NO; we can’t all just get along. Please hear me, I’m not talking about within the Body of Christ, I’m talking about in the world. So, can’t we just get along with the world? No, we can’t because it’s not just about human flesh and blood. Remember Paul’s words in Ephesians 6:12 – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” To get along would mean a compromise with this unseen world of rulers, authorities, powers of the dark world. To get along would mean a compromise with the spiritual forces of evil.
The Disciples had their focus on staying with Jesus, they were hoping that He was going to turn the world upside down in a simple command. We can imagine them standing there wondering what in the world was going on as He started His ascent back into heaven They had asked – are you going to make everything right? And Jesus’s response is nope, not at this time. I want you to wait right here until you’re filled with Holy Spirit, and then I want you to get started being those fishers of men that I ‘ve been training you to be. And I want you to start right here at home in Jerusalem then go out into Judea and Samaria and then set your sights on the whole earth! (Acts 1:7-8)
What a shock that must have been, especially if they remembered Jesus saying, “In the world you will have tribulation.” I can imagine Peter thinking well this is a nice mess you’ve gotten us into. Some of you will catch the reference, I do not mean to be disrespectful, just trying to create a smile in the gravity of the situation because everyone of the disciples were facing their own death as they became those fishers of human beings. They had to have started connecting all the dots of what Jesus had been saying over the past three years and the events of the past month of Jesus’ death, resurrection and now ascension. And somewhere in their thinking they had to have remembered Jesus saying, “A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” John 15:20.
The dots connected – Jesus was leaving them, they were going to have tribulation, they were going to be persecuted. But there was more. They were going to be filled with power when the Holy Spirit came and despite the tribulation and persecution, they were going to change the world. And they did. Beginning in Jerusalem, then moving to Judea and Samaria and into the world they went. Compromise was never a thought in their thinking. Can’t we just all get along was not a motto any of them would have bought into. They would face the unseen world of rulers, authorities, powers of the dark world and even the spiritual forces of evil. They would stand their ground and proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ for all.
Somewhere along the line the Church fell into the lie that compromise – in order to get along – is good. We were never called to get along. We were called to power and authority; we were called to change the world, not get along with it. So, when we ask, what is in store for the Church in the next few years, my answer would be it depends on the course of action we take. Will we continue to compromise the message of Jesus Christ and dwindle into nothingness because we have become weak and ineffective? Or will we receive the power from the Holy Spirit and take up the battle and change the world in the name of Jesus Christ? The second course of action will require a deeper relationship with the Lord, it will require boldness, and it will require being brave enough to face the lies of evil with the truth of Christ. But we can do it if we are willing to wake from our comfort places of compromise and pray for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to fall on the Church as he did with the first century Church.
Are you willing to ask the Holy Spirit to fill us, so we face the persecution and tribulation and change the world once again?