It takes a lot of time and money to keep churches, missions, and other faith-based nonprofits operating. Think of all the boards, budgets, and buildings. Paid staff. In-person and online worship services. Sermons, newsletters, blogs, and podcasts. Conferences, retreats, training sessions, and business meetings. Is it worth the effort? Is this really what the Lord’s work is all about?
I love the church, but I crave a higher purpose than just keeping the machinery going. “Business as usual” doesn’t light my fire. When the church’s quirks get on my nerves and weariness drains my enthusiasm, three motivators remind me why serving the Lord is worth the effort.
THREE REASONS TO KEEP BELIEVING AND SERVING
Logic demands it. I still have a thousand questions about my faith, but I can’t escape the reasonable evidence that undergirds it. Science and nature, morality and justice, history and archaeology, fulfilled prophecy, and the positive example of faithful believers reinforce my confidence in God and the Bible. My faith isn’t grounded in imperfect people and religious organizations. I have placed my past, present, and eternal future into the hands of a deceased and reanimated Jewish carpenter. I believe Jesus of Nazareth came back to life three days after dying on the cross, so logic compels me to follow him. Jesus’ resurrection filled his first-century followers with contagious, uncontainable hope that overflowed spontaneously onto others. The Holy Spirit gave them an unstoppable sense of purpose. They kept believing, serving, and preaching in spite of hardship and persecution. Simon Peter had weaknesses of his own and at times he felt frustrated with other disciples, but he rightly said to Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).
Love requires it. I have seen God’s love at work. Not always. And not often enough. But I have seen the church at its best. And it’s a beautiful thing when followers of Christ care for the lonely, feed the hungry, heal the sick, nurture impoverished children, restore shattered marriages, and teach God’s Word with passion and relevance. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that? From conception to the cemetery, God’s love moves us to care for our neighbors next door and for strangers far away who need to be reconciled with their Creator. “Christ’s love compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14) to share the gospel of peace.
The Lord deserves it. Solomon’s workers spent seven long years building the temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 6:38). This project cost an enormous amount of planning and money. Was their hard work worth it? Years later the Babylonians destroyed the temple and carried the Jews into exile. Were Solomon’s efforts wasted? No. Worshippers rightly celebrated the completion of the temple.
[They] joined in unison to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, the singers raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang: “He is good; his love endures forever.” Then the temple of the Lord was filled with the cloud . . . for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God (2 Chronicles 5:13-14).
The people weren’t always good, but God was (and is). Kings like Solomon weren’t always wise and loving, but God was (and is). The temple took years to build and eventually it was torn down, but for a time it was filled with the glory of God, who deserves all praise.
Today, the church is God’s dwelling place. Yes, there are imperfections in this temple. Lots of things would be better undone (or done differently). There are things the church needs to streamline, simplify, or simply stop doing. But in the meantime, do we see God’s glory dwelling in our midst like a bright cloud? Are we willing to keep believing and serving because our minds, hearts, and souls are convinced of the logic behind our faith, the love that drives our service, and the worthiness of God that inspires our worship?
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).