I think it’s safe to say that there are many today who’ve become disillusioned with the church. If we do some digging, I don’t think that it would be very difficult to understand why. First and foremost, many in the church have forsaken the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We teach positive messages, social justice crusades, and the like, but we ignore sin and redemption through Christ, which is the root of all problems. We have also let false notions enter the church. The Health and Wealth Gospel, which falsely teaches that God desires His people to be wealthy and have perfect health, is one of the greater issues as well, as is the progressive church, which largely denies the divinity of Christ and the authority of Scripture, and while many churches are against these doctrines, we often unwittingly teach it to our children and new converts. Why do I say this? Because Jesus never promised an easy life. He went all the way to the cross for the message He preached, and 10 of the 11 Apostles were martyred (though it wasn’t for lack of trying on John’s part). What is more, Jesus and the Apostles never taught that “God would never give you more than you can handle.” This was never in any part of the church doctrine or teaching, ever. Jesus Himself PROMISED trials and troubles, persecutions, and tests of all sort. One just has to look at the jealousy of the world in rebellion to see that this is so. This is why so many other religions and governments seek to destroy Christianity, and, to this day, torture, imprison, and kill Christians. We were never promised a crystal pathway on an easy slope, in fact, Jesus said “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Of his own troubles, the Apostle Paul said “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-10)
Parents naturally want to shield their children from harm, and I think we desire to do the same for new converts, but this reasoning can lead to sending people in to a hostile world unprepared. The Bible warns us repeatedly that we have an enemy who seeks to kill, steal and destroy, that Satan is a roaring lion looking for a soul to devour. We need to understand that Christ absolutely saves us, that He is our peace, but that peace is not a physical situation, but comes from focusing on Jesus. We need to rely on the Power of the Holy Spirit who dwells inside us to face these trials, and that Jesus has overcome the world. We need to stand upon the promises found in Scripture, and seek to please only Jesus. This is what it means. This is why we need to talk about troubles, trials, and situations beyond our capacity to handle: because we can’t handle it, yet Jesus can! We’re not peddlers in false hope that wealth and comfort bring, but we’re holders of the Spirit of God, given a hope in Jesus Christ that can never be shaken, if we keep our eyes fixed on Him who is able to deliver us safely to His side when our final breath is taken. Otherwise, we’re sending the young and young in faith as unprepared sheep among the wolves. Matthew 10:16-42 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.
“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”