Tuesday Re-mix –
I will not come against their cities.
They will follow the LORD;
he will roar like a lion.
When he roars,
his children will come trembling from the west.
They will come from Egypt,
trembling like sparrows,
from Assyria, fluttering like doves.
I will settle them in their homes,”
declares the LORD. Hosea 11:9-11
“…and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:18b
It is a scenario which plays itself out in the sports world over and over again. A frustrated player whose team is hopelessly behind with no chance of winning happens to make a good play or win one small skirmish against his opponent and begins to celebrate wildly. His opponent simply points to the scoreboard and says, “Scoreboard, baby” (or some other word is sometimes used instead of “baby”). The point is simple: knowing the outcome of the game ahead of time does change things a bit.
That is why words such as Hosea’s (above) had to be encouraging to Israel. Though a horrible season was coming, it gave them a sense of what would be on the other side. It is what God does for His people…He gives them hope of what is to come, even in the midst of judgment. He still does. The church today has similar promises to which we can cling. We may go through horrible seasons ourselves (as a church), but we know how the story ends…we know Christ’s church prevails in the end. “The gates of Hell will not prevail against it.” That is an important encouragement.
Often, when I am working with a conflicted congregation, I will encounter leaders in the church who are literally wild-eyed and crazy passionate about “defending” the church, or protecting it, or defending God’s truth or God’s Word, or otherwise saving the church from sure disaster. I see or hear them say or do outrageous things, all in the name of Christ and His church. I see them showing uncontrollable rage toward this particular threat or that particular threat. I see in them a reckless fear of what might happen to the church if this group gains control or if that leader has his way. They see themselves as the savior of the church…and it just makes me lean back and say, “Really?”
I think we would all do well to remember that Christ does not need us to defend His church. And He does not need us to “save” His Word from the otherwise sure destruction of misinterpretation. Not our jobs. What He does call us to do is to be His church and to speak His Word…not out of some panicked sense of fear or hatred, but with love and with a peace that surpasses all understanding. He calls us to conduct ourselves with confidence that His church will in fact prevail in the end and that His Word really will endure forever.
Every once in a while, especially when we feel ourselves getting all twisted up in a knot over things we see going on in the church today, we just need to glance at the end of the story and remind ourselves, “Scoreboard, baby”… His church wins in the end. Relax.