This October, someone may jump out from behind a tree and scare the daylights out of you. That’s not your fault. Hooligans have no business taking advantage of jumpy people such as ourselves. As the author of Unpacking Forgiveness, I give you permission to withhold their caramel apples. We’ll come up with a verse to justify our behavior later.
But if it’s okay to be surprised by people who jump out of the shadows, there are challenges that come up in the Christian life that really should not make us jump. In fact, we can fully expect that these challenges are going to come leaping out of the darkness. Rather than being surprised by them, we should spot them before they try and catch us off guard. Below I share three challenges that should never surprise a local church.
Don’t Be Surprised By:
- A Shortage of Workers – Since Noah tried to get his family to stack up gopher wood, there has been an abundant harvest but a shortage of workers (Matthew 9:35-38). If your church is struggling to find workers, don’t be surprised. Don’t imagine that there are churches where recruiting is easy. It’s always a challenge. If someone tells you it is easy at their church to find enough help, don’t believe them. God wants us to be on our knees pleading for workers. Don’t be surprised when you find yourself doing so. For more, read Struggling to Find Workers at Your Church.
- Painful Trials – God allows suffering into the lives of believers for many reasons. Suffering and difficulties humble us and teach us patience (James 1:2-4). They soften us so that we can comfort others in their suffering (2 Corinthians 1:6). They show us that we are weak and God is strong (2 Corinthians 4:7). If you do not have a trial currently, then thank God. But the week isn’t over yet. Expect trials and be prepared to count it all joy.
- Conflicts When Your Church is Moving Forward – In a fallen world, any time God’s people are moving forward, we can expect opposition. Paul summarized it well at Ephesus. There is a wide door, but many oppose me (1 Cor 16:9). In World War II, no one got shot at flying over Des Moines. But things got a bit dicey over Berlin. Likewise, if your church is making headway for the glory of Christ, then expect some anti-aircraft fire from the evil one (Ephesians 6:13). For more, read Expect Conflict.
What else shouldn’t surprise Christians?
Of course, we do look forward to being surprised when Jesus returns – – – And that will be soon!