I just finished reading the book of Mark. When reading again of Jesus's betrayal - by Judas, by Peter - and of His abandonment by all of the disciples - those men who knew and loved Him best - something new struck me. Or maybe, it's just that something old struck me in a new way.
I have some young friends who are disillusioned with the church. Earnest in their study of Scripture and their understanding of right doctrine, zealous in their desire to live rightly, these friends see others within the body of Christ who just don't seem to be getting it right... People who call themselves Christians, but who struggle to understand and embrace the doctrines of grace. People who call themselves Christians, but who mess up really big in the practical business of living out this faith. People who seem to be totally devoted to Jesus (Peter said to Jesus, "Even though they all fall away, I will not." Matt. 14:29), but then who turn around and, by their words and deeds, deny the very Lord they profess to love (Peter: "I do not know this man of whom you speak." Matt. 14:71)
Yes, I suppose it would be easy to grow disillusioned!
But I find great encouragement in the writings of Mark. Jesus knew these men - that they would be fickle and faltering, that sometimes they would get this faith business really wrong, that they would even run from His presence - and He loved them anyway. And, in spite of the fact that every one of them really, practically, undeniably blew it, Jesus used them to build His church. It was thrilling to me to read how Jesus, after His resurrection, went straight back to these men, assured them of His love for them, and set them right to work proclaiming the good news of His Gospel!
This encourages me in two ways. First, when I see others in my local church who are just "not getting it right," I can be confident that Jesus is sufficient to overcome their ignorance, cowardice, or weakness. I don't have to bombast them, hate them, or run from them. Also, it is a HUGE encouragement to know that when I am ignorant, cowardly, or weak, Jesus can handle that, too! I can never mess up so badly that my Savior can't find me (even if I'm hidden away in an upper room, behind locked doors) and restore me to Himself.
Also, this gives me great hope for my young, disillusioned friends. They look around at the messed up people who call themselves "Christians" and wonder how on earth there can be any veracity to this faith. But the good news of the Gospel is that Jesus came to save nasty, messed-up sinners - and He does just exactly that, and He does it very well. He doesn't lose a single one of the souls He came to save. Not one. The Gospel is true and sure because of the faithfulness of our Savior...not because of the faithfulness of His children.
That gives this messed up Christ-lover great hope, great encouragement, and great security.
3 weeks ago