I just got back from the Mississippi Annual Conference this past weekend. It’s the yearly gathering of pastors from all around the state. There are times of worship, times of business, times of reflection.
And in the state of the current United Methodist Church, times of sadness. We closed more churches in Mississippi last year than we started. We had more pastors retire than were commissioned for ministry. Our budget remains very, very tight, and we are only meeting 80% of it.
Not to mention all controversies that swirl around the national/international church.
But it’s not just the Methodists that struggle. Every denomination has plateaued. The largest growing religions group in our nation is “those not affiliated,” meaning they aren’t part of a church.
We see these things locally with many churches in our hometowns struggling to grow, to meet their financial obligations, to be relevant in their communities.
So, with all that in mind, listen to what Jesus says to Peter today in Matthew 16:17-18:
And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
The gates of hell will not triumph against His church. God will win. Good will win. The Body of Christ will be victorious in the end.
The church is His body and His bride, and He will return for Her one day. So, yes, in 2012, it may look like things are bad, but, His word tells us that He will win.
Evil will not. Death will not. Pain will not.
Good will win. In life. In the church. In the universe.
In your life.
So, hold on, hold fast. Help is on the way. Don’t lose sight of that. Don’t forget.
God will win.
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