A growing number of ministers have been writing to me in recent months, telling of their concern for those in their flock who are simply giving up. Today, more and more Christians are at the breaking point. None of the talk about giving up has to do with the Lord. Few Christians would even dare entertain thoughts of quitting on their love for Jesus. Most despairing Christians think only of giving up on themselves. You hear it so often now, “I can’t go on anymore. I just can’t make it. It’s totally hopeless! Why try?”
I hear some ministers today who continually preach only a positive message. To hear them tell it, every Christian is receiving miracles, everybody is getting instant answers to prayer, everybody’s feeling good, living good, and the whole world is bright and rosy. I really wish all those good and healthy things for God’s people, but that’s not the way things are for a great number of very honest and sincere Christians. How sad to hear such shallow theology being pushed from pulpits today. It’s an insult to a lowly Jesus who became poor, who died a failure in the eyes of the world. It is this kind of materialistic preaching that has so ill-prepared an entire generation of Christians to endure any kind of pain. They have not learned to be content with such things as they have to be abased and not always abounding. Serving God becomes a kind of Olympic race in which everyone must strive for gold medals.
No wonder our young people give up in defeat. They can’t live up to the image created by the religion of a happy-go-lucky, rich, successful, always positive-thinking Christian. Their world is not that idealistic. They look in a mirror reflecting a face covered with ugly pimples. They live with heartbreaks, hour-by-hour crises, and horrible family problems. They look into the uncertain future, frightened and worried.
Positive thinking won’t make their problems go away. Confessing that these problems don’t really exist doesn’t change a thing. These “apostles of the positive” should not exclude the Gethsemane experiences of life. The cup of pain, the hour of isolation, and the night of confusion were all part of the Master’s lifestyle. Our great achievements, our successes, ought to take place at Gethsemane, not Fort Knox!…