How To Live and Do Missions as a Christian in Times Like These
There's no doubt about it. We are clearly living in very complex and disturbing times. Fear is in the air. Uncertainty is felt around every corner. Will there really be food shortages coming? Will Russia really start using nukes? Will Putin really attempt to submerge the UK in a nuclear bomb-induced tsunami? Will there be a major energy crisis as some are predicting, at least here in Europe where numerous countries like Italy and Germany depend heavily on natural gas from Russia? Will inflation continue to rise so drastically? Will free speech be banned? On and on the list of current troubling and potential realities go. Whether we like it or not, we are facing numerous tests to our faith in the King of kings, Jesus Christ. Do we really believe that He is Lord over all and that He has a greater plan in all of what is currently happening in our world today?
It's my strong conviction that through all the uncertainty that most of us are facing about the future the Lord desires that our faith be strengthened and refined. It's my conviction that no matter what happens in the coming months or years, there will be a great moment of clarity felt around the world. It'll be a moment similar to that which comes after a dark and fierce thunderstorm when the sky becomes crystal clear and our vision seems to increase 10 fold. "After darkness light" is a slogan from the time of the reformation that constantly rings in my heart. In fact, this little slogan is intentionally placed on the bottom of all of our custom-made tracts here in Italy. Every time the Gospel and the Word of God go out there is the potential for a soul to be transferred from darkness to light. If we truly believe that Jesus is the Lord of lords, we can have great peace and strong courage to confront whatever may lie ahead because we know that He is ruling over it all to the end that the world will see more clearly that Jesus is Lord.
So how are we to live through times like these?
There is much that can be said on a theological and practical level, but here are a few things we can pray for God's help to implement in our daily lives.
I.) Live mindful that whether it be soon or not for several thousand years still, there will in any case be an actual end in which there will be judgment.
Make sure you are truly saved. If you are saved, be mindful that God says you are now justified and sanctified through the finished work of Christ and you have been spared condemnation. Rest assured, as well, that God will deal with evildoers.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil. - 2 Corinthians 5:10
because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” - Acts 17:31
II.) Live fully in the now, as if today could be your last, but be mindful that Christ could very well not return for several thousand years still.
It's important to live fully and to the glory of God today. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. The Lord has given each of us a purpose and ministry to fulfill. All that we do should be done unto the Lord Himself, for His glory.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, - Col. 3:23
Too often, in my estimation, we find too many who are convinced that the "ship is going down". They believe strongly that Jesus will be back tomorrow and so they don't properly live their lives by bringing the Gospel into every area of life. They're not very optimistic about the Lord's work in our world nor the power of the Gospel to transform people and even nations. They long simply to be taken out of here. They don't think about the future generations. This was my view in my early years as a Christian. It's my conviction that it is this mindset that has caused too few rooted Christians to get involved in law, politics, and education which has led to the reality of some radical (and frankly crazy) people trying to establish ungodly laws and policies in our country and around the world that cause much harm to others. It's for this reason we are facing many of the challenges we currently have before us.
Throughout history, it seems that the one belief that most Christians have had in common is that they were convinced they were living at the end of all things. Yet we see that the apostle Peter himself spoke of the end times having already begun even at the very beginning of the church (1 Peter 4:7). We also see Peter talking about how with the Lord one day is as 1,000 years and 1,000 years as one day (2 Peter 3:8). The truth is that we have been in the end times since the beginning of the church. The truth is that the Gospel is still daily transforming souls, families, communities, and entire nations even now after 2,000 years of God the Holy Spirit acting in our midst.
You and I cannot know if the Lord will return tonight, tomorrow, or not for another thousand or ten thousand years. All we know for sure is that God is working and doing far more than we can imagine or dream, and most assume that God's work is soon already over, yet this assumption has been proven wrong over and over again. Live fully today for tomorrow is not guaranteed, but out of love for Jesus and the Gospel, don't forget to think long-term as well.
III.) Fear Not
Fear comes naturally for many of us, especially when there are so many things out of our control in the world. As Christians, we should fear God and walk by faith knowing that Jesus has overcome the world and by faith in Him we too have overcome the world. Let us resist the temptation to be paralyzed by fear, and let us find courage and boldness to press on for the glory of God.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” - John 16:33
For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. - 1 John 5:4
IV.) Keep active in the local church
There is so much to say regarding the importance of being a faithful member of a Biblical church. Let me just point out a few things that ought to motivate us to better love God, the church, and the lost for the time that remains for us to live:
God Arranges the Body w/ purpose - every member has an important role. (1 Cor. 12: 12-31). Know and play your role. Appreciate the members of the body of Christ. God intends us to be different for a purpose.
Jesus Builds His Church - man (and his "growth strategies") doesn't build the church. We simply play a part in what Jesus is doing. His ways of church growth are not like ours. Primarily, Jesus grows His church as we obey Him and evangelize the lost, and God the Holy Spirit causes new birth. On a positive note, let us remember that no one and nothing can stop Jesus from growing His church (Mt. 16:18). As we evangelize the lost, let us rest assured that Jesus knows His sheep and they hear His voice and come to Him (Jn 10)
God the Holy Spirit Orchestrates - He moves/ directs/ orchestrates circumstances and people toward those who can gather them in and care for them by making them part of the body of Christ (Biblical local churches). Jesus wants His sheep well-fed, built up, and flourishing. (Jn. 21: 5-6, Acts 10). The story of Cornelius in Acts 10 is a beautiful picture of how God causes His church to grow, even while we sleep. The story of John 21 is a beautiful picture of how Jesus directs lost people to be found just like He directed the fish into the nets of the apostles.
V.) As you live fully in the now, have your mind set on building, renewing, creating, restoring, proclaiming the gospel, teaching, equipping, and leaving a solid foundation for those coming after you to build upon after you're gone.
One of the Christian's greatest joys is actually found in evangelizing the lost and discipling new converts. Sadly, modern trends have pushed believers away from the call we have to evangelize Biblically and faithfully. I pray to the Lord to revive the church with a fresh vision and zeal for Biblical evangelism. If you want to be revived in the work of evangelism, let me encourage you to sign up for an evangelism cohort in Italy with PMc next summer! It's a great way to ignite the flame for evangelism.
In addition to this fundamental Christian practice of evangelism, I also want to point out the importance of living all of life for Christ. As Christians in this world, it's my conviction that we are to be applying ourselves not just to evangelism and discipleship, but also to building, renewing, creating, and restoring so as to leave our little world a better place than how we found it and so as to leave a foundation of sorts for others to build upon after we're gone. I believe we are to be doing work that causes people to marvel at the ways of God.
As Christians, born of the Spirit of God and part of new humanity united to King Jesus, we are salt and light in this world. God is the creator and builder and He has called us to do likewise. There is much joy to be found for God's people when they apply themselves to building, creating, renewing, and restoring in their everyday lives. Businesses, products, art, health care, education, music, and services that bless others and bring glory to God are essential. Home-keeping and homeschooling are high callings from God as well. Let us not forget that for much of Jesus' earthly life He was a carpenter, and after His resurrection, He was seemingly doing the work of a gardener... cultivating the ground in the way the first Adam had failed.
Frankly speaking, if I didn't believe what I'm writing here today, I would for no reason sacrifice my life in Italy to build and create the PMc ministry and see lost souls reached and discipled to the end that more Biblical churches are started. The work here is laborious and the fruit is not measurable in quantity to the amount of labor. But I'm convinced that it is worth the sacrifice. A foundation is being laid that can, Lord willing, continue to be built upon even long after we are gone, if indeed the Lord should tarry still longer. May we all apply ourselves to do similar, to live all of life to the glory of God. SDG
You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability. 18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. - 2 Peter 3: 17-18
Written by Jesse Schreck
Developed from a PMc Short Lesson on Missions - How to Live and Do Missions as a Christian in Times Like These