Christians, Quit Freaking Out
by Joseph Franks
Parents, chill! When we are at our worst, everything in our child’s life is a big deal. From their homework, to their appearance, to their grammar, to their athletic performance, we put way too much stress on ourselves and our offspring to hit the mark less they fall behind and prove to be mediocre disappointments to us, themselves, and their God. As a soccer coach for twenty five years, it is a pathetic spectacle to see a parent on the sideline losing his cool over his six year old son messing up his college scholarship opportunities. (I mourn the fact that I might have been one such idiotic parent in days gone by.) Friends, take a fresh look at ourselves and our God. We have quite often been mediocre. We have quite often been average. Despite what we might like to think about ourselves, we are not that excellent in every way. We know the truth. We hide the truth. We worry that this truth may leak out and others may see our failures. And in the areas where we are somewhat excellent, we know our days are numbered. Truth be told, we cannot hit the mark. We never were able to hit the mark. And yet, the Lord has been so faithful to us. He has given us far more than we have earned and deserved. Consequently, we now worship God by working hard, but we do so delighting in the Lord’s undeserved blessings that he pours upon his mediocre children. Now then, should we not expect such undeserved grace and blessings for our progeny? Has not God promised to be abundantly generous to believers and their children? Must we continue demanding that they perform — immediately, perfectly, constantly — or else they will prove to be losers in the sight of their parents, their neighbors, and their God. Come on mom and dad, quit freaking out!
Citizens of the United States of America, relax a bit! Look and learn from history. Every campaign season, it is the same. America always seems to be on the edge of a cliff, and unless we get a “savior” now, all is lost. Oh, I mourn with you. From a Christian, constitutional, and conservative standpoint, our blessed nation has been slip sliding away for quite some time. Yes, I know our great nation seems to perpetually transition from worse to worse, and the chance of turning the ship appears to be less and less likely. We have never been perfect, but I would take yesterday’s imperfect nation over tomorrow’s imperfect nation. I pray that God might revive many hearts, and that his Spirit might cause these transformed souls to transform this great land. However, in the midst of the storm, let us not panic and think all is lost. Jesus is in the boat with us. Jesus is in control. He is the ruler of nations. He is the appointer of governors. He is the one who moves the king’s heart. He foreordains whatsoever comes to pass. Jesus really does have the whole world in his hand. So while we labor, and vote, and pray, and cry, let us not forget our faith. Come on Christians, quit freaking out!
Church and ministers, take a breath! Yes, we want to see our covenant children grab hold of our faith. Yes, we want to see many in our community saved by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Yes, we want to keep the worshipers we have. Yes, we want to gain more worshipers. Church growth is the goal of God; it is to be the goal of God’s people. But let us not respond as men and women without faith. What do we know from the Church Growth Manual given by the Lord? What do we know from the Church Growth Consultants who received divine revelation from the Master? Brothers and sisters, the church has a solid foundation; it is not built on the sand but on the rock of Christ Jesus. We have a head who watches with compassion and intercedes for his beloved from above. The church has a sovereign power within that is irresistible. In addition, the church has an eternal and unbreakable promise that the gates of hell will not prevail. Sure, the church will change. It will transition. It will morph. It will go through seasons of feast and famine. There will be days of more and less holiness. Heavenly delight and discipline will surely be expressed. However, the church is the bride of Christ, and our glorious groom will not shirk his patriarchal responsibilities. The church is his garden, and he will have his bountiful and glorious harvest. Listen to the words of the Church Growth Guru:
And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” (Mark 4:26-29)
From this simple parable, Jesus describe the Kingdom of God. It does require work. Disciples are to be shiners of the light, fishers of men, and scatterers of seed. Church work does require diligent inspection and review. Day and night, we ought always to be active in repentance and reformation. It will grow. Like corn and wheat, it transitions from seed to blade to grain to ear. But also see, the growth of God’s kingdom cannot be figured out or quantified. The man who sows seed, watches it grow, but “he knows not how.”
Friends, parents, citizens, and churchmen, let us labor. Diligently we ought to be about the business of discipling our children, our community, and those in our church.
In addition, let us be diligent inspectors. Review, repentance, and reformation are to be our constant activities. Let us teach the Law to ourselves, our children, our neighbors, and our members and pray for a super-abundance of God’s grace that we might look more like Christ.
In our labor, let us not think we can figure out the recipe or formula or action plan that brings about success in our own timing. The Christian maturation of a child, the Christian reclamation of culture, and the Christ-honoring building of the church is something ultimately made successful only by the Holy Spirit. When it happens, we know not how.
And in all of this, let us not be depressed. Maybe God will shake the soul of America. However, he has not promised to do so. He has not promised this Land of Liberty will enjoy a stream of unending prosperity. Sadly, he just might take us down. However, he has promised covenantal blessings to families and to his church. One day, America will be no more. But one day, churches full of believing parents and children will enjoy the eternal feast. So, while we work hard, let us relax. Let us quit freaking out. “Grace has brought us safe thus far, and grace will lead us home.”