*This post is dedicated to a good friend of mine, probably the most faithful missionary I know, who's been feeling a bit discouraged.
In Luke 18:25 Jesus says... it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.
In Jesus' sermon on the mount (Matthew 7:13-14) he says... For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 7:22-23... On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
We are a sinful and rebellious people. There is good in us because we were created in the image of God. But ever since the fall, there is so much self-centeredness, so much greed, so much pride and so much sin that it is incredibly difficult for anyone to actually choose the gospel.
In light of this, how on earth do we keep ourselves from giving up on people? How do we avoid becoming jaded and cynical? How do we keep from looking at a person who is lost and broken and thinking, "Why waste my time, they're just going to reject Jesus? They won't believe. It's not even worth it."
If I'm honest, I feel like giving up on this whole mission of God thing a lot. I've invested so much of myself into so many people. I've poured out my heart and my life and seen so little return on investment. It often makes me question why I'm even doing it. Or if it's even worth it.
For example, there's a young man who recently contacted me for help. I don't know him very well at all yet, but from everything I can tell he is lazy, unmotivated and selfish. He asked for help and a big part of me is thinking, no way am I going to spend time on this guy. He's not worth it. He won't change. But he is also lost. He has not trusted the gospel. He is not following Jesus.
But here's the key. This is what keeps me sane. This is what keeps me hopeful. Are you ready for this???
JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD!!!
Yeah... he really did. And if Jesus can rise from the dead, he can do anything. Not almost anything. Not most things. Anything. He can save any person. He can change any heart. And he can do it whenever he chooses. His perfect will may make the process of life change a quick one, or he may intend for it to be long. Some will choose Jesus and some will not. But my hope comes from the Lord. It's not about my ability to change people. It's about my faithfulness to Jesus and all that he has called me to do and be in him. He will take care of changing people.
When I get burned out and discouraged, I MUST preach the gospel to myself. I have to constantly tell myself that life isn't about how "successful" I am at leading people to conversion. It's about how faithful I am to pursuing the mission of God no matter the outcome. It's not about trying to gauge potential wasted time vs. potential return on investment. It's about following the Holy Spirit wherever he leads for as long as he leads.
I know many of you out there have mustered up as much courage as you could find and engaged the lost with the gospel only to be rejected. Many of you have opened your home, your wallet and many other facets of your life, only to be rejected, abused and burned in countless ways. I know many of you have given up. You've decided it's just not worth it.
But let me remind you that you too were once dead in your sins but you've been made alive in Christ because GOD DID NOT GIVE UP ON YOU! God is in the business of bringing dead things to life. But it starts with you. If you're feeling angry, frustrated, burned out or jaded, please hear me. The first resurrection that needs to happen is in your life.
This isn't simply about conversions. It's about the glory of God being made known! If your exhausted, tired, frustrated or have just given up. Be encouraged. You're serving a resurrection God who wants to resurrected your hope and faith so you can believe again, no matter how many times your burned or rejected, that God is getting glory and his mission is being accomplished. Not because of you... but through you.
Don't give up.