John 6:65-70 (NKJV) 65 And He said, "Therefore I have said to you that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by My Father." 66 From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. 67 Then Jesus said to the twelve, "Do you also want to go away?" 68 But Simon Peter answered Him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 70 Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?"
I have been involved in the work of the Church my whole life. I have ridden on the waves of spiritual momentum and experienced other times where it seemed as if I could not bail the water out of the boat fast enough to keep it from sinking. Such is the nature of the work of the ministry. All of the Apostles experienced both good and bad times in their tenure. Most of the original disciples were indeed martyred.
Even Jesus faced difficult times of reversal in His public ministry, where many turned away from following Him. This not only occurred in the time of Christ’s Passion, where Judas betrayed Him and the other disciples scattered and hid themselves away; it happened earlier in His ministry. Isaiah spoke of Jesus as “A man of sorrow and acquainted with grief.” Surely that is an emotion that I have shared and pain I have personally carried through the ups and downs of ministry.
Why do people stop walking with us? Why do people walk away from ministry? Was the work of the ministry not fulfilling? Was it discouragement or weariness? Was it unrealized hope? Was it us? These are the questions that the accuser pitches at us with attached accusations. Stop…stop…and hear the truth: If people walked away from Jesus…what makes us immune from the same? Is this not a part of the sufferings of Christ that we share?
Not everyone walked away from Jesus. When Jesus questioned the twelve, “Do you also want to go away?” Peter answered with a truth that I hold on to: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Now that is the reason I continue to endure the ups and downs of the ministry. I’ve got no other option than to serve. No other option than to follow Jesus. No other option that makes any sense. Jesus indeed has the words of eternal life and eternal life is the ultimate end game!
Author's note: I am like the rest of humanity, I am trapped in the flesh of a egocentric individual. In the ministry I have experienced times of tremendous growth and seeming success. I know that I was impressed by what "I" had accomplished. I have also experienced times of working in difficult situations where the ground was hard and there was very little fruit. I now realize that while hard work, good strategic thinking and planning can assist in the work of the ministry, ultimately, it is the Lord's harvest. The Lord deserves the credit for our times of abundance and the Lord deserves our dedication in the times where things aren't going as we wish. All in all I'm with Job in my declaration: "Blessed be the name of the Lord!" RJ