I was at a commencement speech for some preaching students that I helped teach a few years ago, and something the main speaker said has stuck with me: inn 40 years of ministry, Jeremiah never had a single convert. I knew it (heck, God even told him it would be so), but this statement struck me dumb. It also has me thinking (on a regular basis), how many of us measure our success in Christ the way the world does? What I mean is this: the world is about numbers, crowds, popularity, and momentum. Yet with God, He opens doors no one can close, and closes doors no one can open! Jeremiah didn’t have a single convert in his life and suffered a gruesome death, but He still preaches to this day through the books of Jeremiah and Lamentations. He still impacts lives and ministries, even though he died before he could see the fruits of his labors. That is what faith is all about: trusting that, no matter what, God will do what He will do, even should I not understand it this side of heaven.
In the same way, believer, this is what we should aim for, not looking toward the evidence of God’s work in our lives, but moving forward and trusting that God will be glorified. Even should the rest of the world loudly demand I go off the cliff with them, I will follow Christ and proclaim His Gospel, even should no one else listen. We are called to be lights in the world and to make disciples of all nations. God doesn’t demand results, He calls us to obey. Proof is in Christ’s life and ministry: hundreds of Jesus’ followers left Him when the teaching got too hard (only the 12 remained), and He was abandoned by even those who remained with Him once He was arrested. By all accounts, this should be considered a failure! Yet, He had the final victory, walking out of that tomb, restoring the faithless 11 remaining apostles, bringing His brothers to faith (who mocked and derided Him during His ministry), and appearing to some 500 witnesses who proclaimed His life, death, burial and resurrection after His ascension. We are the fruits of that labor! So don’t seek results, seek Jesus. Keep focused on Him, and if no one else goes after Him, YOU go. I will walk with you, as long as the Lord allows.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
1 John 3:11-24
For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.