“Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus,” (2 Timothy 2:3; NASB).
Imagine you are standing in a burning building where the smoke is too thick to find the door. Suddenly a firefighter bursts into the room and grabs you by the wrist. At first, you are relieved. Then suddenly he breaks out a set of speakers, some neon lights, and a praise band. You beg him to carry you to safety, but he simply denies the existence of the flames and the smoke and proceeds to try to entertain you.
It’s one of the worst feelings in the world to be talking to someone face-to-face and know that he is lying to you, especially when it is a matter of grave importance to you personally. In last week’s edition of the Pilgrimage, we encouraged you to live the quiet life. We insisted:
“We have just walked away from what ought to be the most delightful day of the week for us (Isaiah 58:13). We should be well rested, refreshed, spiritually fed, and ready to face whatever the world might throw at us. Most pertinently, having just been with the people of God, we ought to be stepping into our workplaces with the love of the brethren fresh in our minds.”
Sadly, for many of you, this world is a burning building and, far from living the quite life, your soul is screaming out for someone—anyone—to carry you to safety. You may attend a church where, instead of facing the stark realities of this world head-on, your pastor and his staff insist on entertaining you while you crumble under the weight of this world. For you, Mondays are a day to be reminded that there is no refreshment, no rest, no spiritual food to be had in your dark and unforgiving world.
Many know this world to be full of pain, hardship, affliction, persecution, and calamity. The authors of Scripture were not negligent to inform us that we should expect as much. “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” (2 Timothy 3:12; NASB). Yet, Sunday after Sunday, Christians funnel themselves into pretty, plastic, pristine churches where they are lied to about the building that is crumbling around them. Perhaps you are one of these Christians.
There could be myriad reasons why you subject yourself weekly to such dishonesty and denial. It could be that this type of “church” is all you have ever known, and you are unaware that there are churches out there who major in facing reality head-on and being transparent about their struggles. It could be that you think this weekly “pick me up” is actually of benefit to your soul, because you have equated manufactured emotional highs with the work of the Spirit. It could be that there simply are not any good churches in your area.
Our encouragement to you today is that you find a good and godly church that will not sugarcoat the realities of this sinful, fallen world, but will face them head on. If in order to do this you must find a new job and relocate, be willing to do so. In some cases, your eternal soul may depend on finding a church more committed to preaching truth. In the meantime, know that there are Christians in the world who understand your hardships, we suffer with you as soldiers of Christ in this foreign land, and we look forward with you to the day that we will commune with Christ and with one another in eternity. In that place, there will be no weeping, for He will wipe away every tear from every eye.