“In this world you will have trouble.” – Jesus Christ, A.D. 33
One of the things I have always admired about the Bible is its honesty about how life really is. It is also amazing how current Scripture truly is.
Life is hard. Relationships are hard. Getting and handling money well is hard. Caring for things is hard. Church is hard. Health is hard. Good habits are hard. I know Jesus loves me… The Bible tells me so… But the Word of God also clearly teaches us that life is hard sometimes, really hard! Sometimes scary, really scary! Sometimes unfair, really unfair!
Sin is easy. Getting into debt is easy. Sweeping relational difficulty under the rug is easy. Church-lite is easy. Bad habits are easy. Genesis 3 and Romans 3 are so dead on! The Fall of Man is so true. The sinfulness of people is evident everywhere, all the time.
So what is a Gospel-centered person to do in a world threatened by troubles like ISIS and Ebola on top of everything else challenging that eventually happens? Read these passages from Philippians 1 to gain some perspective:
“Now I want you to know that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” [The Apostle Paul was in chains in jail.]
“As a result…most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”
“Whatever happens conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…so that I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending for the faith of the gospel without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.”
I love the mindset the Bible calls followers of Christ to adopt- the attitude of perseverance in and focus on the advancement of the gospel of Christ. Yes, there absolutely is horrendously bad news in the world. This is reality all the time and everywhere. The Bible from front to back makes that clear.
In light of the reality of trouble, Philippians 2 calls Christ-followers to:
“Have this mind in us which was also in Christ Jesus, that even though he was God did not let that fact take him off focus, but he made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.”
Whether it is Ebola or ISIS or whatever happens as Christ followers, we focus on the light and glory of the gospel above all else. We do this not as an escape from the various troubling and life threatening realities but we do this based on our call as Christ followers. Nothing can bring peace and rest to “whatever happens” like Jesus Christ and His good news!
We have several sister Ev. Free churches in Liberia and I specifically have my friend Pastor Matthew Gonkerwon, who serves at the Ev. Free Church of Monrovia Liberia [the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak]. Matthew just lost his good friend, Pastor Morris Varney, Morris’ wife, and two daughters in the last three weeks to the Ebola outbreak. Here are portions of my last two e-mails from him:[Oct. 9] “Yesterday and today have been a very hard, sad and stressful day for me as a Pastor, leader and Shepherd of the flock. One of our Pastors was yesterday diagnosed of Ebola and is now in the treatment center. Two weeks ago he lost his older daughter, his wife and yesterday his little daughter to Ebola. He is the Pastor of one of our churches plant called Peace. His name is Morris Varney. Please pray for his recovery and the community where the church is located. It is really hard for me. Please pray for God strength , protection and care.”
[Oct. 12] “Thanks so much for your prayers and support for us here. My Pastor friend Morris Varney finally died yesterday and the whole village has been quarantined leaving the villagers in a great need of food. It is a hard time for me and the church. Please continue to pray.”
Pastor Matthew will continue to conduct himself in a manner worthy of the gospel no matter what has happened! Please pray for the people in Liberia and West Africa and for our Free Churches there.
I love you all!