As a child I enjoyed hearing about the amazing missionary journeys of St. Paul and the astounding successes he had in one city after another, planting congregations in spite of ferocious hardships, recruiting and training new leaders, and performing miracles.
But it wasn’t all seashells and balloons. Just as Jesus’ own ministry initially yielded more unbelievers than believers, Paul also suffered some severe setbacks. “Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some” (2 Timothy 2:17,18).
Your congregation probably has some great stories of triumph and progress. But you may also have experienced days of bitter disappointments. People you thought were solid in the faith wandered off or—worse—stayed and caused divisions in the group.
These setbacks do not mean that there’s something wrong with the gospel message or something wrong with you. Jesus predicted that these things would happen. Expect them. Stay dialed into the Word as your personal source of truth and your personal source of strength and let God sort out the macro picture.
He will take care of people like Hymenaeus and Philetus in his own way and his own time. Don’t panic. He will protect you and get you safely home.
Pastor Mark Jeske has been bringing the Word of God to viewers of Time of Grace since the program began airing in late 2001. A Milwaukee native, Pastor Jeske has served as the senior pastor at St. Marcus, a multicultural congregation on Milwaukee’s near north side since 1980. In addition, he is the author of six books and dozens of devotional booklets on various topics.
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