I recently heard an older Christian say he is the most hopeful he has ever been about Christianity in his entire life and ministry.
That is an idea that I have been reflecting on ever since. I am not sure I would have said that. But given the fact that this Christian is older and more experienced than I am, he got my attention…he challenged my assumptions about how things are going.
Much of our perception depends on who we hang around. If we hang around people who are participating in large movements of God, we tend to find more hopeful people. If we spend our time around those who are bitter and bemoaning the way things are…seeing little movement, little progress, little growth…chances are we will be more pessimistic.
I encourage you to get in tune with those who are seeing growth through the movement of God in the world. There are mission efforts around the world, growing in some very difficult and dangerous areas that are growing like crazy. The center of global Christianity is shifting eastward and southward. We are seeing huge movements of God in places outside our typical thought leaders in the West.
Part of our hope depends on who and where you are paying attention to. If you are focused solely on American Christianity it can be more challenging to be more hopeful. But we aren’t the center and God is interested in so many other people than us. Part of our pessimism may be egocentrism.
Let’s pay attention to the thousands of churches being planted in South America, India, and Africa. Let’s notice the millions of disciples being made each year in some of the toughest and least Jesus-friendly environments in the world. They have much to teach us. The script has flipped…we need to learn from them. Their stories of God’s movement are inspiring and generate so much hope. Like my friend who made the above statement, the more time I spend around those who are working in the middle of kingdom movements, exponential growth, revolutionary discipleship and disciple making, etc the more hopeful I am about the future as well.
If you lick your finger and put it in the wind of social media, chances are you will think the sky is falling. But if you spend more time listening to those who are in the thick of challenging circumstances and watching God come through…you will find your way back to hopefulness.
Who are you listening to in order to determine how things are going? What are you seeing God do that gives you hope?