There is a certain school of Christian evangelism which likes to give out the message that if you come to Jesus, everything will be all right. You put your trust in Jesus and yours is the victory to claim in every situation. Your burdens will be taken away, your path will become smooth and you will live forever with the love of Jesus in your heart.
Now of course there’s a lot of truth in that message. But the reality is, it’s only part of the gospel message, and when you give people only part of the gospel, you are actually building people up for disappointment and disillusion with the Christian message. Why? Because such a message does not deal with the everyday situations we all face, the times when we do not feel like we are living in victory, when – to quote an old, old chorus – the road is rough and steep, when sometimes even the love of Jesus seems very, very distant.
When we explain our faith, it’s so important to be honest and share how even with the love of Jesus in our hearts we will still walk in the valley of shadow of death (Psalm 23). It’s important to share how even Jesus wept at the death of his friend Lazarus (John 11:33-35). It’s important to wrestle like Job with the question of suffering and the experience of losing everything we hold dear. People are far more likely to respond to a message which does not offer a quick fix but addresses the very real hurts and pains we all face, and presents a hope which is robust enough to cope with every heartache and every tear.
That’s why on Sunday the theme of our service will be about “faith in difficult times”. We’ll be looking at the experience of the Israelites at the hand of Pharaoh, and looking at their anger and disappointment with God. What does it mean to believe and trust in Jesus when times are hard?
Come along this Sunday and do some serious business with the Lord! See you there.