A Wake-up Call for Blasé Believers
At a time when hope is hard to find, Stearns remains optimistic that Christians can make a difference about global poverty and maybe even earn the world's respect and admiration in the process. Stearns observes, "[L]oving our enemies, living with integrity, caring for the sick, feeding the hungry, and being generous with our possessions don't ever seem to divide or make enemies."
But is this true? If Jesus is our example in these acts of love, why did the world hate him and his apostles? Why did Jesus tell us the world would hate us for loving him? Surely we can all agree that the church should follow Christ's command to love our neighbors whether or not we ever receive thank-you notes. But when, for instance, we suffer for our heroic stands on behalf of the most helpless among us—the unborn, for example—we understand why we can't allow the reaction of our neighbors to dictate our agenda.
As Christians feel the Western world growing more hostile toward the church, it's tempting to blame ourselves. We specialize in the jeremiad that places the sins of the world at the church's door. If only we did more, gave more, loved more. Evangelicals are at heart activists. We never settle for the status quo.
Yet we also know the sin that finds refuge in the dark recesses of the heart. We long for Jesus' return, when he will take away our love of sinning and wipe away all our tears. We also know that until then, we'll disappoint—probably our neighbors, certainly ourselves. Somehow, though, God's grace will be enough. Somehow the treasure of the gospel, stored in our jars of clay, will testify to God's power. And somehow he will finish the good work he started in us.
Collin Hansen serves as editorial director for the Gospel Coalition. He is the coauthor of A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories That Stretch and Stir (Zondervan).