“We’re living in crazy times” is a common phrase spoken by many who are overwhelmed with the dangerous path the world is following. I hear this phrase being spoken mostly by my Christian brethren. Yet I want to propose something: What if these times aren’t so crazy? Compared to the Christian persecution in Rome and the corruption involved in Roman government, these times are hardly crazy at all. Perhaps in our own lifetime the times may seem crazy. Yet when looking back at the history of sinful human nature, are the times really that crazy or are they just typical of sinful human nature? I propose the latter. Yet let’s suppose I’m wrong. Maybe these times really are crazy. What do we do with that as Christians?
What about these times seem crazy to us? As Christians we can point to the increasing support for abortion, homosexuality, decreasing church attendance among the youth, an overall lack of biblical knowledge among Christians in western civilisation, the growing insanity and corruption of American politics, and many other things. Yet as I’ve examined Christian history in my pre-seminary studies, I cannot help but deduce these times are really not as crazy as it may seem. I mentioned Christian persecution in Rome earlier. Some of us may be aware of it, but we may not be aware of the extent to which Christians were persecuted. They were burned alive at the stake, crucified, flayed alive, joints dislocated while suspended from a ceiling, fingernails torn off, and many other horrible things through various torture devices. Of course, the Romans were not the only ones to persecute Christians in such horrible ways. The Catholic Church did the same to Protestants for a time. Compared to those times, these times are not as crazy, even when comparing these times to recent history, such as World War II. Almost all of us have no idea what it’s like to live during a world war. Those were crazy times.
Yet still in our own lifetime, times are crazier than they have been. I can think back to my childhood in the 90s and my middle school years in the early 2000s and see how simple things were compared to now. Times may have been simpler then, or it may have just seemed like it because of my ignorance in my youth. The times might seem crazy to us, but we have to remember that we live in a sinful world. Because we live in a sinful world, things are not going to get better; they’re just going to keep getting worse until Christ’s glorious return. It is imperative that we recognise that reality. Why? So that we don’t grow weary of proclaiming the Gospel.
When we live in troubling times—or “crazy” times—we may grow weary at times when we proclaim the Gospel and sometimes it feels as if we’re accomplishing nothing. Yet as we proclaim the Gospel, we must remember His Word for ourselves as well, such as, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My Word be that goes out from My mouth; it shall not return to Me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:10-11). Just as rain falls from the clouds to nourish the earth and give harvest to those who toil the land, so God’s Word is just as fruitful. When we proclaim the Gospel—God’s Word—it will accomplish what He intends it to accomplish. When we proclaim God’s Word, it is not always clear to us what God’s will with it is. We cannot always discern what God’s will is when we proclaim His Word. Many of us may have experienced preaching God’s Word to someone where they fail to come to know Christ. Yet they have still heard God’s Word and they may come to belief later, or somebody else may hear it from them that will cause them to believe. Or it may serve for the simple purpose of nourishing our own faith. There have been many times in my life where I shared the Gospel with someone and they remained in unbelief, yet sharing the Gospel served the purpose of reassuring my own faith.
Never underestimate the power of God’s Word. In the not-too-distant past, I met a Muslim woman from Albania on Facebook. Our paths crossed in the strangest of ways where I commented on a Facebook page’s photo and she replied to my comment, which built a conversation until it developed into a friendship. After talking for a little while, I learnt she was Muslim. Not wanting to raise any tensions in this new friendship, I had planned not to tell her that I’m a Christian, let alone studying to be a pastor. Yet as all friendships developed, it was inevitable that she ask what I do for a living. When she asked, I told her I’m a full-time student, which inevitably led to her asking what I’m studying. So I was honest and told her I’m studying to be a Lutheran pastor. When she asked me what a Lutheran was, I explained to her that it’s a Christian denomination. Instead of receiving the hostility that I judged I’d receive, she asked me what Christians believe, so I told her the basics about Jesus Christ, the significance of His crucifixion for the forgiveness of sins, and justification by His blood He shed. Her next words were a shock to me, “Can you teach me more?” Astonished, I obliged in teaching her more about Christ until she surprised me with another question, “What do I need to do to have Jesus as my Saviour?” Absolutely overwhelmed with God’s grace, I told her to find some time to herself to pray to God to confess Christ as her Lord and Saviour. I gave her a sample prayer to do this. Since then, she’s been amazingly transformed in Christ, she’s always seeking to know Him more, all the while having to hide it from her Muslim family so she doesn’t become disowned and possibly even killed in her own country.
I had no idea what God’s plan for that relationship was. In my sin, I had intended to keep my faith to myself, yet God had other plans. His Word did not return to Him empty. This may not happen in every situation of an unbeliever, yet my story serves to show the power of God’s will in His Word that we are unaware of. We can never presume to know what God’s Word will do in people’s lives. I’ll share another brief story from my life: There was a particular friend who had fallen from the faith, and we had several discussions about the issues she was dealing with as I urged her to trust God in the midst of all those issues. Eventually, she got tired of listening and would no longer talk to me about it. As I went on with my life, I posted daily Bible verses on my Facebook, as it was my habit at the time. After several months of doing that, she contacts me and tells me how all those Bible verses I posted inspired her to go back to church again, and now her relationship with the Lord has been rekindled. I had no idea that merely sharing Bible verses every day would have that effect on someone, let alone her. Truly, God’s Word does not return to Him empty.
“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:9-10). It might seem as if we are living in crazy times, but so what? Do not grow weary in doing good to your neighbour, especially your Christian brethren. We often think the Gospel is only for unbelievers, but it is also for us! Just because we have a reconciled relationship with God our Father does not mean we no longer need the Gospel. We are still in desperate need of it. Whether we’re living in crazy times or not, never grow weary of proclaiming the Gospel, for God’s Word always enacts what He sent it to do. It is not up to us; it is up to God.