The Monday after Easter is sometimes a letdown, said Dr. James Emery White, professor of Theology and Culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, in a recent blog post.
White discussed the disappointment that small churches and church planters might have if they had hoped to see larger crowds on Easter. He writes, "You are grateful to God, but now that Easter is over, there's a bit of a letdown. You wanted so much more. It was, in the end, a typical Easter Sunday," he writes.
But White, lead pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, N.C., assured church leaders that this feeling is normal, and reminded them that it often takes years to grow a church.
"I know the soup of the day is rapid growth, but please don't benchmark yourself against that. It's not typical," he said. "It's not even (usually) healthy. So stop playing that dark, awful game called comparison. It's sick and terribly toxic."
For White, what ultimately matters for churches is whether they are being faithful, not whether they are being successful. He said, "You're not in this for human affirmation, but a 'well done' from God at the end."
He noted that when pastors try to compare themselves with the status of other churches, it often leads them to fall prey to "the sins of envy and competition." But, he said the "true competition" is really against a fallen world "held in the grip of the evil one."
In a sermon re-posted on today's Desiring God blog, Pastor John Piper echoed White's warning about Satan being at work in today's world and how often his work comes in subtle forms, like letdown or burnout after Easter.
He said often "our worst spiritual and emotional collapses follow in the wake of our happiest, most victorious experiences. Maundy Thursday was rich and holy. Good Friday was sober but sweet. Easter morning was glorious. But then came Monday morning."
He said Satan is at work "sifting" Christians and the church, testing their faith, and trying to separate them from their faith.
Piper noted, "Satan is real, has great power, and must be reckoned with seriously and soberly in this age. But a second implication is that Satan's power is by permission from God. There are not two ultimate powers in the universe. There is only one: God."
But, Piper said, God allows Satan to move in the world because "in the end it will be good for the church and will bring more glory to God. It's clear from the whole NT that God intends to bring the bride of Christ to perfection through affliction and temptation."
He said that the work of Satan will ultimately bring more glory to God and compared God to "an omniscient general whose aim is to fight and win the war in the way that will bring him most glory for his magnificent, strategic wisdom and power."
Christians have to remember, he said, that "Satan cannot hurt us any more than God permits."
For Piper, true hope for Christians lies in the fact that "God is willing and supremely able to save forever all of us who trust him; he also conspires with the Son to keep us trusting to the end. God will always see to it that faith has the victory and that his children have faith."