Good Will Triumph
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
1 Peter 3:15
It’s easy these days to watch the news and come to the conclusion from a Christian worldview that the world is in a terrible state and things are only getting worse every day. Then we read stories like this - “Iran has world’s ‘fastest-growing church,’ despite no buildings - and it's mostly led by women,” or “Christianity thriving in China despite 70 years of Communist rule,” or “Muslim in Middle East Says Jesus Visited Him, Recited Gospel of John: ‘I Couldn’t Look at Him’” - and we’re reminded that God is very much alive and Jesus is very much at work in this world “that is passing away.”
Are bad things happening? Absolutely! Should that be our focus as followers of Jesus? Absolutely NOT! Martin Luther wrote in his commentary on Galatians that we should “Preach the gospel to ourselves;” in other words, as Christians there are basic truths about life, faith, Jesus, and salvation we should carry with us at all times. These truths - sin, Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross, his resurrection and victory over death, and his assured second coming when we will rule and reign with him for all eternity - should frame and help us respond to the evil we experience each and every day, both in our own lives and in the world at large.
In her devotional “Good Will Triumph,” Joni Eareckson Tada minces no words as she addresses how we as Christians should respond to evil, writing:
We Christians shouldn’t smirk at the misery of our contemporary culture or the frantic grabbing for diversions, attention, or pleasure. This is no time for smug self-righteousness. This is no time to get cranky that our country has been hijacked by this or that political movement. This is a season, perhaps like none other, to truly influence our nation, to showcase the love of Jesus through specific, practical acts of kindness. Others may whine and gripe about the world “going to hell in a handbasket,” but, honestly, we know better. We know that good will ultimately triumph.
When I decided to follow Jesus back in January of 2004, I was living in the heart of San Francisco’s Castro district - “Gay ground zero” as I used to call it. I only needed to walk out my door to be reminded on a daily basis of the evil going on all around me. At the same time, my very public statements that I’d become a Christian blazed like a beacon of hope in that dark place, and for a season I had countless open doors to share the gospel with my non-Christian friends. Seeds of hope were planted, seeds to this day I continue to pray will grow and flourish into saving faith.
So how do we not become bitter, cynical, or jaded as we observe what’s going on with Christianity and the church in America? Joni gives this advice - “…let’s show what this ultimate good will look like by rolling up our sleeves and helping neighbors, feeding the hungry, and surprising people with courtesy and care in Jesus’ name. If you find yourself overly discouraged or pessimistic about today’s culture, then find a way to start serving that culture in ways that point to the love of Christ.”
Let’s not waste time whining or complaining about today’s culture; let’s serve it with love in the name of Jesus!