Encouragement in These Times of Despair in our Culture
"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
-Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV)
As a Christian, one could get very discouraged in light of all of the recent social issues that have hit the news wire. Abortion is the normative as it ever has been, divorce is seemingly at an all time high and things like pride, slander and sexual sin are absolutely rampant. What's worse is not the fact that these acts are happening, but it is the wide spread tolerance and acceptance of these issues. Abortion's approval rating is near 50% in the US, divorce has just surpassed the 50% mark itself and adultery and homosexuality is widely become normative; if you want proof, turn on the television. You can see the overwhelming support from 'people of faith' for sexual perversion, and the media blackout given to the Gosnell abortion doctor trial. What has happened to the planet one might ask? I find reason to be encouraged even in dark times like these:
1. It was supposed to be this way
Jesus made it clear that the door to eternal life was narrow, and that only few would pass through it. He also made it clear that the gate that is wide would be the easy gate to pass through and it would lead to destruction. You want to know how narrow the gate is? Say something against the grain in culture and see how quickly you are labeled a bigot and intolerant. In fact, the only demographic one can ridicule and still be tolerant is Christianity. Those who believe the ways of Jesus are shunned and oppressed into backing down from their faith, or at least from speaking their faith in public. Jesus himself says, "woe to you when all men speak well of you!" So why are we so surprised by the overwhelming support for what is antithetical to Christianity? After all, we worship a guy who was murdered for who he was. We, as true believers, shouldn't expect that we will be treated much different. The thoughts of the public about Jesus are the same today as they were in Jesus day, they are simply manifesting differently as the Devil has gotten more crafty, using tolerance and human thought, rather than oppression and murder as he did back then. Let us continue to not be ashamed of the testimony of Jesus and share in the suffering of the Gospel (2 Timothy 1:8). We bought into suffering when deciding to follow Jesus. The battle is real, so let's equip ourselves and continue to share our message of faith. Many are passing through the wide gate. It's time to answer the call, become God's vessel for the truth.
But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. (1 Peter 4:13 ESV)
2. Let's not forget the Holy Spirit has a say
It can be tough to not be discouraged when you see the evil, sin and wrong doing happening here on earth. Sometimes it can feel like we are losing the battle of these issues. I know that in the media, the Christian voice has been nearly silenced. For the first time ever we did not have an evangelical Christian representative at the presidential inauguration. Reasons like these can make Christianity seem defeated at times. But fear not, for the Holy Spirit will have His say! Many Christian men and women across the country have spoken out for Jesus in recent months. The Holy Spirit is stirring up a strong spirit in His people. We are still seeing those who were lost, get saved. Many are being baptized into God's Kingdom! Many are being delivered from evil all across the country from alcoholism, to wicca, to sexual sin, and the like. Do not overlook what God is doing just to get a better look at what Satan is doing. We should praise the Lord for the incredible works he has done!
God is raising up this next generation of Leaders to bring him Glory, and they are being forged by fire as we speak, by the media scrutiny and bigot labels they are receiving. The Holy spirit has a say in what is happening and is equipping his people to bring God glory.
3. We have been made saints
We have been delievered from our iniquities. We have been given a new life by Jesus our Lord. Although we have turned our backs on God and habitually walked away, he loved us so much that he sent Christ to pay for our foolishness and give his life as a ransom. How can we overlook the grace our father has given us? Not only that, but God has sent the Holy Spirit out ahead and has been working in the hearts of our friends and family, so that one day they can meet him as well.
God has asked us to be saints in his kingdom. It would be sinful to wallow in the turmoil of our culture and society and not be excited that we are part of a royal priesthood in God's kingdom!
-but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 ESV)
4. The Kingdom will come!
This life is not all we have. We are exiles in this world, sent to spread the name of our Lord Jesus. While we suffer in the midst of culture, let us be encouraged that Jesus is coming back to usher in His official, perfect kingdom to this planet. The living and the dead will be judged and those who have shared in the suffering of the Gospel will get to live in the New Jerusalem, here on the perfected earth with God. We must battle through the tough times, so that one day we will see our King reign. He will conquer evil, government, abortion, acceptance of sin, slander, death and all else that is wrong with the planet.
When will we see that God is truly in control? He has said that the gate is narrow. All who oppose Him will need to stand before him and give an account of why they do. There will be no manuevering, human reason, crafty language or tolerance to get out of facing Jesus in Heaven. Let our Lord who is in heaven be the judge of this planet, and let us rejoice that Jesus has risen and deivered us!
All glory be to the Most High God of the universe who has delivered us from sin, culture, death, society and ourselves.
Eddie Williams(Twitter: @realewilliams) is a Christian, a husband and a father, and public speaker, he also leads a ministry as a pastor, called REACH, a young adults ministry at his home church. The 5 year NFL veteran (Cleveland Browns, Seattle, Seahawks) speaks weekly at the ministry and has spoken across the U.S. at high schools, colleges, conferences and ministries about a vairety of topics, including leadership, hea'th and faith. Eddie has been a part of numerous programs for youth, including NFL Play60. He has also given back to the community at organizations like the Cleveland Foodbank, Feed My Starving Children and Veterans hospitals.For more on Eddie, visit: Eddiejwilliams.me