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The following article was published on iBelieve on March 21, 2024

by Pastor Allen Jackson

The Navy Seals say, “The only easy day was yesterday.” It’s time for us to adopt that motto. As a culture, we are addicted to easy—and that’s just as true in the Church as it is outside of it. We are in a season when it takes courage to engage. Afterall, it’s easier to avoid uncomfortable or awkward discussions. That’s no longer an acceptable position. We need to embrace doing what’s difficult.

“Doing difficult” is the difference between being pregnant with possibility and celebrating new life. You don’t get to that new life without going through challenges, obstacles, fear, and adversity—and if we want to change our culture, it will take the same type of tenacity. The Church has waffled on this. We’ve been waiting for somebody else be bold instead of tackling the challenge of bringing truth back into our culture ourselves.

Resting on others’ sacrifices

In the 1940s, Europe didn’t change just because the West got together and said, ”You’re being really mean.” It took tremendous sacrifice. In the 1960s, schools were integrated and we began to treat one another with new dignity and respect because people were willing to “do difficult.”

The truth is that we have lived for too long on the sacrifices of others. Our success has been birthed by other people’s labor pains. We enjoy freedom, liberty, and access to the Word of God. The majority of us live in comfortable homes, with kitchens and bathrooms that are large enough to be efficiency apartments in most places in the world. We have access to global communications tools that were once reserved for leaders of nations. We expect to travel frequently and to accumulate experiences for ourselves and for our children. For many years, interest rates were low, energy was abundant, and opportunities were frequent. But we have not sacrificed greatly nor suffered deeply to have those things. It’s made us lazy.

As our prosperity increased, we abandoned principles like the value of having good character. There was a time when if your character was known to be flawed—if you gave your word and broke it—it was hard to find somebody who would trust you again. If you led an immoral life from a biblical perspective, you wouldn’t be welcomed into public service. But for quite some time now, there have been no character requirements. We make heroes out of people who are blatantly immoral, self-absorbed, and destructive. We’re impressed by people who can acquire wealth, run fast, or entertain us. We’ve abandoned the ideas of integrity, moral boundaries, and limits.

We want a quick fix

As we approach the 2024 election, it’s tempting to think a politician will fix us. Others of us are waiting for God to solve our problems with something like the Red Sea parting. We forget that before the Red Sea parted, the Hebrew people experienced about 400 years of harsh labor. Change often takes time. In fact, if you look carefully into most stories of “overnight success” you’ll discover they took years of effort to come to fruition. Are we willing to do what’s necessary so the generations behind us will know freedom, liberty, and faith in ways that we haven’t?

The young people who waded to shore on the beaches of France in the last century are referred to as the greatest generation. What will be said of our generation – that it’s the softest generation? I hope not. Let’s decide to be the generation that, when the historians review us, they say, “Something happened to the Church at the beginning of the 21st Century. There was some intense opposition, but they found a courage, a strength, a boldness, an awareness, and a determination to honor the Lord that changed the trajectory of the world.”

This will require a bit of adjustment regarding our situational awareness. Where are we, really?

In the Church, we’ve been busy gathering information, and we can spout facts and quote verses, but understanding where we truly are takes the Holy Spirit’s help. I believe we need to ask Him to awaken us from our slumber of self-centeredness with simple prayers like this: “Lord, help me to see the world from Your perspective. Wake me up to what I cannot see. Show me Your assignment for my life, in this time, and in this season. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

Jesus did difficult

Jesus modeled what it meant to “do difficult” when He was with the disciples. Even though He was fully aware of what awaited Him in Jerusalem, He was not afraid to move forward. He warned the disciples that bad things were going to happen when they got to Jerusalem, but they didn’t hear His message fully. So, they were completely unprepared when events unfolded, just as He said they would be.

We have that same struggle today. We are watching things happen that, even when they’re acknowledged and verified, they’re hard to believe.

We see the rise of antisemitism in our world after Hamas slaughtered hundreds of Jewish people in Israel on October 7th, and we think, “The war is far away—we don’t need to worry.” But the same spirit that hates the Jewish people hates all of the people of God. If we stay silent, they will come for us, too. Our government is currently monitoring people who purchase Bibles, according to a report from the U.S. House of Representatives Justice Committee. It’s difficult to process how that could happen in our nation, but the truth has come into the light. It’s time for us to wake up and use our voices.

Every generation has a unique assignment. God has placed us in this place, in this season for a specific purpose.

What was required for those who stood in the midst of the Civil Rights movement is different than what was required afterwards.

What was demanded of the church in Europe when the Nazis were searching for Jews was a different response than what had been required 20 years before.

The Church cannot behave the same way, decade after decade, and fulfill the purposes of God. It’s time to embrace doing new things, even when it’s difficult.

What does that look like? We know how to do difficult—we just need to be intentional to abandon easy, in the context of our faith. Be willing to serve—at church, in your neighborhood, and wherever God places you, help the people around you. Bring up Jesus’ name, not only when there’s an applause group, but when you know others may disagree. Share stories about what God has done in your life. Love the people around you and help them navigate the difficult things life throws in their path.

Make time to read your Bible, and allow your Bible to read you. Where do your beliefs align with our culture instead of the Word of God? Repent and ask God to help you live according to His instructions. Let’s also be diligent to pray—for our families, our communities, our schools, our nation, and for those in authority, and our upcoming election.

Jesus warned us that following Him and doing difficult things for our faith would come with resistance. It has never been easy to be the people of God. But when we face pushback or persecution, we can rejoice because our efforts come with eternal rewards. Let’s ask God where He wants us to step into the arena, and let’s be faithful to follow Him as He shows us what it means for each of us to lead with faith.

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