Wolves in the church. Sexual misconduct. Divisions over race, politics, and COVID-19. There is plenty of bad news about the church to go around. But as one pastor recently pointed out, faithful Christians are quietly carrying out good works all around him—and God is on the move.
“I realise there are very serious threats to sheep within our flocks, we should be on guard,” said Pastor Chris Thomas in a Twitter thread Tuesday. “I know that there are theological distinctions that need to be defined and defended, we need rigorous debate. But can I tell you what I saw today?”
Thomas is the teaching pastor at Raymond Terrace Community Church, located in Raymond Terrace, a town in New South Wales, Australia. What he observed this week led him to conclude: “I know there is much to be fearful of, much to mourn about the state of faith in this world, but take heart my friend—Jesus is building his Church, and the gates of hell have not, nor will they, frustrate his plans for her.”
Good Works of the Faithful Church
Plenty of controversies are running through evangelicalism right now. There is the debate over critical race theory, the debate over complementarian theology, and the debate over the COVID-19 vaccine. There is the question of which is more concerning: cultural Marxism or Christian nationalism? There is story after story of ministry leaders perpetuating or concealing abuse. And that is just to name a few of the hot topics.
But the Holy Spirit is moving in his church, and faithful believers are still doing good works, even if those are unseen or unacknowledged. In his Twitter thread, Thomas listed several ways he has lately observed Christians love, encourage, and serve one another. “I saw a 70 year old woman drop by our church to sharpen colouring pencils so that the little children could do their Bible story lessons next Sunday,” he said. “I saw a single Mum photocopying her lesson plan as she prepared to visit our local school where she runs religious education classes. I saw a group of 14 teenagers gather after school to brainstorm the program for this Term’s children’s outreach program they run.” He continued:
I saw a brand new Christian share her testimony for the first time. Then I heard her husband, who is completing a “Exploring Christianity” course with one of our Elders, ask, “When can I share my story?” I saw someone weeping as they bowed their head with another. I saw a single woman carrying a young baby so that the tired mother could chat with others over a cup of tea.
“I saw pews of people with Bibles strewn across their laps, eager for the Word,” said the pastor. “I saw hands raised in worship, knees bent in worship, seats filled in worship. I saw exhausted mothers who open their hearts to children who’ve been abandoned and abused, wipe the tears from their eyes and embrace again the very ones who push them away.”
I saw a friend ask forgiveness of another. A wife holding the hand of her husband who was estranged from her just a few years ago. A father whispering prayers of faith for a son who has wandered far from home and not yet returned.
— Chris Thomas (@cbthomas76) April 20, 2021
Sometimes God’s activity in the local church is not so quiet. Earlier this week, ChurchLeaders reported on the work the Holy Spirit is doing in Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Over 1,000 baptisms have happened in the past four months, a blessing senior pastor Robby Gallaty attributes in part to God challenging the sin in his own heart. Yet regardless of whether the good works of faithful Christians are seen by many or by few, we all need help remembering that God is on the move, despite the brokenness all around us.
Several people commented on Thomas’s Twitter thread, saying they are witnessing similar good works in their communities and thanking him for the reminder of God’s faithfulness. “Thank you for helping me see what you saw,” said one. Said another, “I can feel these words in my soul…the work of the Lord is not thwarted by humanity…He is moving…thank you brother for sharing.”
“It struck me how often I fail to stop and name the every-day occurrences of God’s kingdom breaking through,” Thomas reflected. “My eye is drawn to the macro, while God is moving in countless ways through the micro, right in front of me. What grace! What glory!”