Ministry can be a grind. It can feel like a desert. I find that every day, God puts before me two rocks and asks me to choose: Will you trust me and let me show you the next step, or will you try to achieve victory on your own?
Many of us think Christians are supposed to always be happy, and if you’re not, something’s wrong with you or your faith. We even used to sing, “At the cross … it was there by faith I received my sight, and now I am happy all the day.” No pressure at all.
Sometimes we lose the mind-blowing shock of the Apostle Paul’s first-century conversion. The number one enemy of Christianity instantaneously became its biggest proponent. In doing so, he walked away from all kinds of prestige and power and promise in the Jewish community, to become a poor, persecuted Christian who was subjected to numerous beatings, spent more time in prison than he did free, and died by beheading.
What is it about the gospel that tempts people to feel ashamed? Even the Apostle Paul indicated that some people are going to feel this way (Romans 1:16). Tim Keller says in his book "Romans 1–7 for You" that there are four reasons modern Christians feel ashamed of the gospel:
What is saving faith, and how do you know if you have it? Paul answers that question by looking at the life of one of the most important figures in the Bible: Abraham. Abraham is the most important father of the faith in the world: Christians, Jews, and Muslims all point back to Abraham as an essential religious figure.
I’ve gotten this question countless times throughout my years of ministry. Usually, it’s not just a theological question. It’s personal. I cannot take away the sting of loss that these experiences bring. But I can offer a ray of hope from Romans 5:13.