DayBreaks for 6/26/18: The Measure of Success
From the DayBreaks Archive, June 2008:
How can you tell if someone has been a successful person or not? There are those who are considered successful if they attain some position or career or relationship that they have pursued. There are those who don’t seem to have accomplished much in terms of prestige, money or honor, but who have been considered successful: Mother Theresa’s life could hardly be pointed out as a failure, not even in the world’s eyes.
As we are about eight years into the 21st century, I wonder what success would look like for companies that I’ve worked for, for employees who have been near and dear to my hearts, from family (children, grandchildren), for the country that I live it. I would think that we could ask a wide range of people to describe what would look like success in this century and get an even wider range of responses.
But perhaps the most crucial question is this: what would be a measure of success for the church of Jesus in the 21st century? Would it be necessary to convert a quarter of the world’s unbelievers to be successful? 50%? 95%? 100%? Would the church still not be considered successful, even if that happened, because there would still be poverty and hunger in the world? Would success demand not only conversions, but full bellies in all the world? No more killing? Peace?
I am not wise enough to really answer those questions. I know that there are those who see only a dim, bleak future for the church as we are still in the infancy of the millennia. I can understand that point of view. Things do look rather bleak and dark. But that’s when God has always done His best work – when it’s bleak and dark. At the beginning of the creation of the world, it was darkness that covered the face of the deep, and God did pretty good work in making the Himalaya’s and Pacific, didn’t He? It was dark in the tomb of Lazarus and later on, in Jesus’ own tomb, and God did more than just “pretty good work” in those instances. God can work just fine in the dark – and in fact, when it’s dark, the light is all the more visible.
We tend to forget what it was like for the brand new church in the early century or two after the church’s birth at Pentecost. The first 4 centuries of the church were a time when our first brothers and sisters faced odds of success more incredibly difficult than ours. And yet, as J. P. Moreland so wonderfully put it in The Kingdom Triangle, “…yet they were so victorious that today we name our children Peter and Paul and our dogs Caesar and Nero!”
Yes, that’s a certain measure of success. We see dark times, but we forget that in the past 50 years, there has been an incredible explosion of Christianity all over the world. It’s happening everywhere in the world except for one place: Western culture.
Don’t give up. Success is guaranteed by God’s own promise. I will build my kingdom, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. Just remember this: the kingdom of God begins in the hearts of men and women just like you. The enemy has laid siege works against your heart to discourage and depress you. Don’t let him prevail when God’s success is just ahead.
PRAYER: Holy One, let us see some of Your victories in our own lives and the lives of those around us that we may be filled with the encouragement of what You are doing in this world! In Jesus’ name, Amen.
COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.