Someone recently said to me, “We certainly live in interesting times.” While that is undoubtedly true, these times are hardly unique. The “times” have always been interesting! Every point in history has been fascinating for many different reasons and, of course, the relatively young 21st Century is no exception. History has been sometimes good – sometimes bad – but, never boring and always interesting.
However, I do believe that there is something very distinctive about our “times” today and it’s hardly a good thing. I am of the opinion that there have been very few periods in our history where there has been so much negativity as what we see today. Part of this is because of the 24 hour news cycle. Another reason is the technology explosion we have experienced that brings a flood of information that many of us access continually on our cell phones. For the most part, social media is unfiltered and all kinds of truths, half-truths and outright untruths get shared with thousands of people in a click of a button. All of this underscores the old truth: Bad news travels fast!
I have observed few things in my life that are more contagious than misery. Miserable people want others to be miserable like they are. Some people even seek to be miserable. For reasons that make absolutely no sense to me whatsoever, there are many today who truly desire to be victims. It’s almost as if you are a miserable victim, then that somehow elevates you in society’s eyes. All of this creates an atmosphere of negativity and defeatism. This pessimism has permeated our entire culture and it absolutely affects us all.
While Christians like to think that we can keep worldliness out of our own lives and certainly outside of the corporate body, that isn’t exactly true. In fact, it is nowhere near true. The negativity of our culture is clearly seen in the church. We hear people complaining about sermons (hey, watch it!), about elders, about youth ministers, about song leaders, about what people wear (or don’t wear) to worship and so on. We hear others complain how bad the state of the church is; that some congregations are bringing in practices in worship that aren’t authorized, or even forbidden, in Scripture. Some believe that the church’s best days are behind us – that our immoral culture, courts and politicians will eventually force the church into irrelevancy. Add it all up and sometimes we sound like Eeyore, the little donkey in Winnie the Pooh, who always thought the sky would fall at any moment.
Well, let me be so bold as to say this: The church that Jesus built is just as strong and just as glorious as it has ever been! No matter how difficult things around us may be or may become, the church is still the kingdom which shall never be destroyed (Daniel 2:44). In fact, a study of the Book of Acts will enlighten us to this truth: When the church faces difficulties and persecutions, the church grows. It always has and it always will. Why? Because faithful men and women always rise up and lead the way with the most positive message the world has ever heard – salvation through King Jesus, the Christ.
When you start feeling negative about the church, just remember that men can’t bring down the church that Jesus built. In fact, the more they try, the greater the church will be! Rather than pessimism, we should instead remember the request of David in Psalm 51:12, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by Your generous Spirit.”
The church is good, great, because of its builder, Jesus. Any negative in the church is due to the sins and selfishness of men. Our attitudes will be so much better when we keep the focus of our hearts and minds on Jesus rather than the “Negative Nellies” of our day.