I wish that I could stand on tiptoe and see into the future.
I can’t do this, but I don’t mind telling you what I think I would see. If I could look into the future and see the future of the church, I think I would see that the best is yet to come. No, I’m not referring to the end-times. Rather, I am talking about the existence and ministry of the church on the earth, embodying the presence of Christ.
I have been a Christian for a number of years. I have been a minister for several decades. I have seen trends, fads, dog and pony shows, etc. I have also seen church quarrels, church splits, immature and sinful church leaders, etc. Yet, in spite of these realities, I am so encouraged. I am delighted to be alive in 2009.
Today, I continue to follow Christ, and serve as a minister in a church, with an optimistic spirit regarding the future. I know that many people long ago gave up on the church. I am not writing these lines to argue or defend. Yes, I have discouraging days and difficult seasons. I have seen much that is disappointing and even discouraging. Yet, I can honestly say that I see more that encourages me than discourages me.
When I think about the future, I don’t mean to leave the impression that the church will not struggle or even suffer. Nor do I mean that the future church will not have problems — even serious problems at times. Yet, I do not take the view that the best years are behind us. (I am not speaking of a specific group of people or a particular denomination.) Rather, I am simply voicing my confidence in the work of God’s Spirit through the living Jesus who dwells in his people.
- I am thinking of a people who take Jesus seriously and whose lives are being changed by him.
- I am thinking of a people who have a kingdom vision and a passion for that vision.
- I am thinking of a people who value the church whether they meet as a small group of five in a home or as a large group of five thousand in a rented facility.
- I am thinking of a people who live obedient to Jesus and who are serious about holy living.
- I am thinking of a people whose gracious demeanor allows others to experience authentic Christian community.
- I am thinking of a people who have a world vision and who care about the world. This world vision begins one person at a time.
What do you see that encourages you? What do you see in your own church or in another church that causes you to feel encouraged about the future?