We all need encouragement – I know I certainly do. The truth is, at least once a month I am ready to give the whole thing up. I get overwhelmed not only with the magnitude of the task which lies before me, but the steady, constant, and at times ferocious criticism and hate I get for what I do.
And I am not just speaking about the usual suspects here – you know, the tolerance brigade in all its glory (the homosexual activists, militant misotheists, etc). But it is the constant carping and whinging from fellow Christians that can certainly get you down.
You do your best to do what God has called you to do, but you get these other Christians who are sure you are wasting your time, out of God’s will, or just not “nice” enough like they are. The oddest bit is when they severely judge and criticise you because they think you are too judgmental and critical! Go figure!
So anyway, I find myself often encouraging the troops along the way. Sure, most of my talks are about warnings and alerts as to danger ahead, as in the watchman on the wall (see Ezekiel 3 and 33 for example). But more and more often when I speak I will spend time simply encouraging the folks to keep standing strong and to fight the good fight.
I did that just minutes ago at an amazing men’s brekkie. Unlike most others, it was out by a creek in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, but was actually in suburban Adelaide. With an open fire blazing, and a great breakfast just downed, I spent my time telling the men about some of the battles we must face.
But I also tried to encourage them to never give up. While we had perhaps only just over a dozen guys, I said, as the rain lightly sprinkled down, that Jesus too had a motley crew of twelve men. The world would not have thought much of them, yet they managed to turn the world upside down (Acts 17:6).
So I told them they too were a motley bunch whom the world could not care less about, but by God’s grace could be world changers just like the early disciples. I gave a similar message to some brave troopers in Oxford just days ago, and to Christian leaders in London a few weeks ago, and to a group of ex-homosexuals in Amsterdam just before that.
So we need to do both, if we are proper spokesmen of God: warn of dangers ahead, and also encourage one another. We need to give the hard word, but also the encouraging word. As it has been said, the true prophet of God (or pastor) must do two things: afflict the comfortable, and comfort the afflicted.
We must sound the alarm, rebuke, chastise and blow the trumpet when needed, but we must also offer the soothing word to the brother in need, the hurting sister, or the struggling Christian. Sometimes our fellow believers need a kick in the pants, and sometimes they need a helping hand to get up and walk again.
But we all must be steeled for the job which lies before us, and the heavy days which are coming upon us. The opposition continues its war of attrition on the Christian faith, and we need now more than ever brave men and women who will stand strong and man the front lines.
The battle fronts are many, and I have documented hundreds of them over the years. Every day a new alarming development takes place. Let me just briefly mention the latest outrage. In the US state of Colorado the powers that be have declared that Christians must violate their own consciences, and fully submit to the homosexual jackboot.
Just today this determination was made: “A department of the Colorado government today said that a Christian cake maker must use his creative expression to support same-sex ceremonies.” My forthcoming book will feature many more examples of this war against faith, family and freedom.
So, more than ever we need men and women who will courageously take a stand, and speak out about the evils of our day. This is indeed part of the Christian job description. It is part of what it means to be salt and light in a decaying and dark society.
As Suzanne Olden said in a new piece, we are under obligation to speak out, yes, to even judge, the sins we find all around us. She writes: “Don’t be cowed into believing the twisting of Scripture. Sin is real, judging it is our responsibility. Sex outside of marriage, traditional marriage, is sinful. Killing the unborn, for any reason, is wrong. If more people would stick to what they know is right, and not be bullied by the PC brigade, the next generation would be in a better place to know and make better judgments about what is right and wrong. Instead, we crumble like day-old cookies and abandon our children to the whims of an immoral society.”
Yes quite right. We have a job to do, and we can’t allow the world to set our agenda, or tell us what we can or cannot do. We must speak the truth in love of course, but we must speak the truth nonetheless. And part of that truth telling is warning about sin and judgment to come.
So let me encourage you to keep on keeping on. We need more believers who will wake up to the truth that we are in a war, and we are all called to play our role in the many massive battles we find ourselves in. To think that we can just sit all this out is to betray our Lord and our Christian calling.
As J C Ryle put it, “The saddest symptom about many so-called Christians is the utter absence of anything like conflict and fight in their Christianity. They eat, they drink, they dress, they work, they amuse themselves, they get money, they spend money, they go through a scanty round of formal religious services once every week. But of the great spiritual warfare—its watchings and strugglings, its agonies and anxieties, its battles and contests—of all this they appear to know nothing at all.”
Or as A W Tozer said, “The idea that all you have to do is to accept Christ and you are in is a great mistake. It leaves people with the impression that if they accept Christ they have no fight to fight, no warfare, no job to do and no temptations. They are just in. When you accept Christ rightly as your Lord and Savior you are in, but to be honest, you have just started to fight. People get converted and we do not tell them that they must fight all the way through to heaven because of the spirit of degeneration and the tendency to deteriorate. They must fight, pray through, suffer it out and live in praise and worship, because if they do not they will deteriorate. Read the history of the Christian church if you can keep your faith and keep from weeping.”
Finally, as John Piper rightly stated: “There is a war going on. All talk of a Christian’s right to live luxuriously ‘as a child of the King’ in this atmosphere sounds hollow – especially since the King himself is stripped for battle.”