I recently spoke at a weekend retreat in east Texas to a group of young adults from a local church near Dallas. At the end of our time together, we had a Q&A session that lasted for about three hours. In the hearts of these young people burned the question, “What does our future hold?”
It’s easy to sense the uncertainty many people feel in our churches. The culture also reflects it by the despair that keeps growing in the political arena of our world. As believers, we need to take a step back, look at human history from the Lord’s perspective, and examine the history God chose to include in the Scriptures.
From Egyptian slavery to the Assyrian invasion, from the domination of Babylonia, to the rise of Medo-Persia, the sovereign acts of God to save and to discipline his people has never stopped. Not even the Greek world during the reign of Alexander or the Roman hand of oppression during the New Testament times could thwart God’s plan for his people. As God revealed to Nebuchadnezzar through Daniel, it is he who raises up kingdoms. It is he who puts them down. Daniel 2 reminds us he’s in charge of the times and the seasons. Isaiah 55:8–9 tells us his ways and thoughts are not like ours.
Even at the one pivotal moment in human history, when the world was at its worst, God still was at his best. The worst of evil occurred on the cross when an innocent Christ bore the guilt of the world. God executed his justice—and don’t forget, he did it to his Son—so grace could be offered and the forgiveness of sin could be granted. That alone is enough to make you think God was in charge and knew what he was doing.
The cross of Jesus has not changed. It still answers the question: If God is loving, powerful and gracious, then why does evil seem to prevail in this world? This question remains the number one issue that keeps people from coming to Christ, and it’s probably the number one question that takes people from Christianity. Yet, the power of sin over creation was broken on that cross. And the sting of death was conquered though the resurrection.
The gospel remains the core answer to all our doubt. Only God could take the rejection of the promised one and turn it into the selection of the one who would build his church so not even the gates of Hades—the authority structures of hell—could triumph over it. Jesus makes all the difference in our future and our lives. Outside the cross, there is no hope in this world. It can only be found in him.
If Christianity can flourish in the first century under Roman authority, we can trust God will continue to birth it in the hearts and lives of people. We don’t know what the future holds but we know God has a plan and is in control. He’s not dead and has not slipped off his throne. He is still worthy of worship, praise, adoration, and especially our trust.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 15:13).