John Piper was recently asked how he deals with the fact that most people do not spend much time in prayer or the word. Below is his transparent and very helpful response:
I have to battle discouragement, anger, and desires to just leave and find a little group of people who are totally sold out for the Lord. But the Lord enables me—at least he has over the years I've been at Bethlehem—to see that Jesus dealt with the same issues. He had 12 guys who all forsook him at the end. My people haven't all forsaken me. One of Jesus' closest friends denied him three times. I've never been denied like that in any crisis. Judas betrayed him utterly and handed him over to death. I've never been handed over to death.
My little battles with the sins of my people, which is an echo of my own sinfulness, is nowhere near as painful as what Jesus dealt with. Therefore I think it is a rebuke to me that I have to struggle as much as I do to be merciful and patient and kind.
The Bible is filled with exhortations to us shepherds that we love the sheep and recognize that they have to be led to green pastures and still waters, and that they're going to get lost and break their legs and dirty their wool. It's our job not to get uppity or angry with our people. Instead, we are to get down with them and do everything we can over the longhaul to keep lifting them up.
We're always going to be dealing with a defiled and imperfect and immature church. I don't think it will ever change. Right up until the day people die or Jesus comes the church will always be a gathering place for sinners, and some will be soaring and some will be stumbling, crawling, or leaving. Shepherds who have to have a perfect church are just not going to survive.
In other words, I preach the gospel to myself: that I have been loved with a patience so extraordinary that for me to turn around and show patience to my people and take them wherever they are and bring them along isn't that big of a sacrifice.
To read or listen to the complete interview click here