Reflecting on the close of 2018, this C. S. Lewis quote comes to mind: “There are far better things ahead, than anything we leave behind.”
If you watch the news, follow social media or plug into the Twitter-sphere you would think everything in our world was going to hell; that bad news is everywhere. Even the Christian news cycle seems to be loaded down with doom and despair. Indeed, 2018 has had a fair share of heartbreak and devastation. However, no matter how grim the headlines, what we need to remember is that Christ has come in power and victory, God is always at work and His is an indestructible Kingdom. The Church is never in jeopardy because He is in control even when things seem out of control. I have learned to trust that “the Spirit blows where it will” and that His triumphs often come in mysterious ways, through unanticipated means and unexpected people. Our human tendency is to rely on victory and salvation coming in tried and true ways that we have grown accustomed to, but His ways are not our ways. God is never that predictable; His solutions are rarely natural or common. They are extraordinary and supernatural.
Like Paul being an unlikely choice for revival in his time, I hold out hope for influences of our time to become forces for the Kingdom as well, coming not from recognized or traditional Church leaders but from new voices, encountering the Spirit of God in a fresh new way. Someone like Chance the Rapper, who is currently on a spiritual sabbatical: “I’m going away to learn the Word of God which I am admittedly very unfamiliar with. I’ve been brought up by my family to know Christ, but I haven’t taken it upon myself to really just take a couple days and read my Bible,” he stated.
As a leader in the Bible translation, distribution and scripture engagement world it has been beyond imagination to witness the Bible made available through the explosion of YouVersion – where an everyday device has been leveraged for maximum eternal impact, similar to Jesus’ unexpected miracle of using something as simple as loaves and fishes to fill a need of the masses is being replayed in modern times.
My most urgent prayer need for the Global Church and for our work at OneHope has been the crack down on Christian leaders and churches in China in this past year. They are facing drastically increased political persecution, but if we follow biblical and Church history we need not wring our hands in despair or look to human solutions to resolve a political challenge, but as our brothers and sisters in China have reminded me, they answer to a higher power than the government. Reminiscent of the religious rift that sent Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego to the fiery furnace, they wait for the miraculous intervention of the 4th man to protect them and use their circumstance to proclaim His salvation to a world desperate for hope.
It’s true fundamentalism is on the rise whether Islamic, Hinduism, Buddhism or Secularist – these loud, vitriolic voices seem to triumphantly parade their suppression of the Gospel, but in all these cases my experience is that in reality people are hungry for the Good News and are finding Jesus in more dramatic and powerful ways than at any other time in the history of the Church’s mission. This year alone OneHope has reached 112 million children, 47 percent in the 10/40 window, through brand new ways, in never before reached places, through the willing, sacrificial and most humble Kingdom servants.
God is always at work. He will prevail—there’s nothing that can stand against Him or change the ending to the story. Even with the most horrific headlines, we need to remember that not only is the Kingdom not in jeopardy, it is triumphant and victory is inevitable. No headline can nullify that truth. Let’s rejoice in the goodness of our God and anticipate the New Year with fresh resolve and passionate commitment to follow our King towards His victorious ends.
All this ‘bad news’ is but a momentary and light affliction, preparing us for all the ‘good news,’ an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.
Rob is President of OneHope and Chairman of the board at Oral Roberts University (ORU). His innovative Outcome Based Ministry model and training has helped thousands of global ministries shift their paradigm and begin incorporating best practices that dramatically increase their effectiveness.