It is far easier for one to be a defeatist and a pessimist than it is an optimist. All the defeatist and pessimist has to do is look at the bad side of things, see what is going wrong, and focus on that; which is rather easy for most people to do. Many people in our society have taken up the banner of defeatism: everything that goes wrong is the worst that has ever been. The weather is the worst, the government is the worst, the crime level is the worst, the food and gas prices are the worst, and on it goes.
Unfortunately, it is easy for Christians to get into this rut as well. I know because I have personally been there. We hear about how the Lord’s church is growing old in the United States; about the congregations that are apostatizing through the desire to be like the denominational world; about the difficulty in getting people to obey the Gospel, and we begin to believe the publicity that, for all intents and purposes, the church is dying in America.
The focus on these heavily perpetuated topics of discussion leads to two problems in the Christian. First is the belief that nobody is interested or cares about the Gospel anymore. Second is the belief that sharing the Gospel with others is useless because they will not believe it anyway. Both of these perceptions only work to perpetuate the cycle and turn the rumors into facts.
However, friends, the rumors of the demise of true Christianity in the United States of America have been grossly overstated. Consider some of the things that are going on right now in the body of Christ in America: we have a brotherhood run and financed 24/7 broadcasting network (GBN) that is gaining an ever increasing audience throughout the United States and the world; we have publications of the highest quality like Think Magazine that are readily available at retailers throughout the country and online; we have the ability and the means to do whatever needs to be done wherever the need arises.
Hitting closer to home, I know personally of 4 baptisms that have occurred in the last 24 hours, including one here at Second Street last night. We at Second Street have had 2 baptisms this year, and though that may not seem like many to some people, in a congregation of 50 that is a 4% increase in the number of Christians in this congregation already this year. There are still people who want to know and obey the truth. The greatest obstacle to our reaching them is found in ourselves.
American Christians have often become focused on finding the “right candidate” for the Gospel. By that most mean the civic or business leader in the community, one who is respected and financially stable, bringing “value” and “additional resources” to the congregation. Such is a flawed and fatal view of the right candidate for the truth.
Jesus taught in the parable of the wedding feast (Mat. 22:1-14) that when the invitations went out to those who were thought to be the best candidates for the feast, and they rejected the invitation, that invitations were then extended to anyone who would come. The best candidate for the Gospel is the one who will listen! It matters not who they are, what their position is, what their financial situation or past involves, all that matters is whether they will hear God’s Word and obey it. It is time we stopped “picking winners and losers” and begin devoting ourselves to whoever will listen.
True Christianity is not dead in America, and we need to stop proclaiming that it is! The only thing keeping the Gospel from flourishing in this country as it has in decades past is the willingness of the people of God to proclaim it. If every member of the body of Christ is motivated to find those who are desiring to hear God’s Word, believe it, and obey it, instead of fighting with one another over trivial and often meaningless idiosyncrasies that have no bearing on one’s salvation, there is no doubt that the body of Christ will once again be a strong, vibrant force in America. God will not allow our efforts to come back empty (Isa. 55:11).
The future of the Lord’s Church in America is not predetermined. It will be dependent upon each individual Christian’s devotion and actions for the cause of Christ. You will determine the future of the church in this country. You can be a living testament to the continued validity and vitality of the Scriptures in men’s lives. It is time to put down the laziness of defeatism and stand with the strength of truth and dedication.
God told Joshua, “Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest” (Jos. 1:9). The same holds true for us today. Will you join me in dedicating yourself to the continuing strength and ability of the Lord’s church here at home by proclaiming the Gospel and finding anyone who will listen?
I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase. – 1 Corinthians 3:6