Finding God in the “Unholy” Moments

There are many moments in life when I feel a sense of accomplishment, pride over what I’ve done. Moments of success, praise, etc. However, there are some very special moments in my life that have a unique satisfaction attached to them: the moments when I do something I consider to be “holy”. 

So, I started to wonder. What is more important to God? A “successful” mission trip or a completed homework assignment? Leading a bible study or washing the dishes? Volunteering at church or sleeping well? 

For the longest time, I would have confidently stated that God wanted me to do more as a Christian to bring Him glory. Mission trips, in my mind, would be way more important than homework. Although I thought it was important to work hard at everything, at the end of the day, I believed that the greater “good work” an action results in, the more important it is. That is until I read the book of Jeremiah. 



To understand the book, I had to learn some Old Testament history. It begins with the Israelites, God’s chosen people, asking for a king. God allows them to crown kings, although that results in dire consequences. After Saul (a terrible king to begin with), David, and Solomon, the kingdom splits into Judah and Israel. Both of these kingdoms have many disastrous kings who hurt the people. However, in the line of Judah, there are a few kings who actually follow God. Ultimately, though, most of the kings still disregard God and the people are taken into captivity. 

At the very end of this unfortunate kingdom of Judah comes King Zedekiah. By his time, the Babylonians had taken many of the people into exile. King Zedekiah and his brothers before him all “did evil in the sight of the Lord” by allowing idols and following the kings of other kingdoms. King Zedekiah was even called Mattaniah before Nebuchadnezzar changed his name to Zedekiah. 

After nine years of ruling as king, King Zedekiah rebelled against the Babylonians and so they laid siege to Jerusalem. During this time, King Zedekiah sought out Jeremiah and asked him to ask God to deliver Judah. However, God firmly speaks through Jeremiah in announcing the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. 


Realization #1: False Positivity: God Accepts Negatives

With every test, there are always limitations. If you take a lie detector test, for example, the test could sometimes say that you are telling the truth when you are, in fact, lying. The reverse could also be true. Getting a “false positive” or a “false negative” on such a test can be very misleading. The same was true during King Zedekiah’s time. 

Since King Zedekiah didn’t like what he was hearing about the destruction of his nation through Jeremiah, he turned to other prophets. These prophets told of freedom that would come to Judah through God. Unfortunately, they were false prophets and tried to mislead the people by promising hope for a future that was not in God’s plan.  

In times of struggle, it can be easy to hold onto our optimism and hope for the best. It can even seem like we are trusting God by doing so. We always think that God works through blessings. He does give us good things. Although God is faithful and gracious, He still often works through struggles, instead of blessings. 

God does open doors, but He also closes doors. Both are important. The good times and the bad. Often, the growth that comes from the negative moments in life and in learning to trust God through them can be unparalleled. Although God does work in mysterious ways and He does not try to hurt us, He does always prioritize our holiness and our relationship with Him. 

I wonder when I am in a difficult moment if I reach out to my Father for hope or reach out to an imaginary happy future for hope. The imaginary future is futile. It is not as beautiful as the real future God has in mind. And, just like the false prophet Hananiah failed the people (and so was punished with death), my imaginary future will fail me. 


Realization #2: Restoration: God always restores

King Zedekiah refuses to trust God and believe God’s words until the very end when Zedekiah tries fleeing but is still captured. King Zedekiah witnesses the death of his own sons and lives in Babylon until he dies. It’s a tough life without God. 

However, King Zedekiah’s story is barely the first part of the actual story. King Zedekiah was the last king of the kingdom of Judah. After the fall of Jerusalem, the temple there was destroyed by the Babylonians. The people are in captivity for 70 years. Until King Cyrus. 

Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem. And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem. – Ezra 1:2-4

King Cyrus is clearly familiar with God and His work. Surprisingly, however, this is not the first mention of King Cyrus. Over a hundred years before King Cyrus’ reign, his very name was prophesied by Isaiah. 

Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus,

    whose right hand I have grasped,

to subdue nations before him

    and to loose the belts of kings,

to open doors before him

    that gates may not be closed:

“I will go before you

    and level the exalted places,[a]

I will break in pieces the doors of bronze

    and cut through the bars of iron,

I will give you the treasures of darkness

    and the hoards in secret places,

that you may know that it is I, the Lord,

    the God of Israel, who call you by your name.

– Isaiah 45:1-3 [ESV]

This entire chapter in the book of Isaiah actually speaks of King Cyrus of Persia. Although King Zedekiah failed along with many of the other kings of Judah, King Cyrus, who was not even from the kingdom of Judah, learns of God and His plans and successfully sends people to rebuild God’s temple. 

God always planned to restore His temple and His people. He spoke of this restoration from the beginning. However, the absurdity of having a foreign king save God’s people made even God’s obvious clues be ignored. God was still faithful to His plan. 

What I found most interesting was the path that God took to restore Israel. He could have chosen to make Zedekiah a great king who led the people to victory. Just as God gave His people the victory multiple times in the past against various enemy nations, even the great nation of Egypt, God could have saved them. However, on top of allowing struggles, God also made the struggles the path to beauty. 

God didn’t use a perfect king of Israel to save His people. He used terrible kings. And yet, He saved His people. He even used foreign kings and reached foreign nations through Israel’s captivity. In the long run, God didn’t need Zedekiah’s obedience to accomplish His grand plan of restoration. 


Realization #3: Temples: God Accepts the Broken

Ultimately, in this narrative, God rebuilt His temple. By doing so, God continues to prove His ultimate power. Building a temple might seem like a meager use of God’s power. However, in Old Testament times, the temple was very important. It was the only space where God would directly interact with His people. 

Without a temple, the people could not offer sacrifices to God and so keep the law and keep their relationship with God. Basically, people would not be able to repent at all without a temple. In light of what repentance means to us today, this makes the temple very important. 

As Jesus says: 

No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. – Luke 13:3

Repentance is the act of turning to God. Without repentance, we could not have a relationship with God. There was one issue with repentance and temples though. In temples, only pure and holy people and objects could enter. Therefore, there was a long list of rules when it came to being cleansed before entering. Only after being cleansed could one enter God’s presence. In fact, even the high priests would fear going into the deepest parts of the temple as any impurity could result in God killing them on the spot. 

Although we no longer have temples, we often act as if we do. Before Sunday mornings, we try to cleanse ourselves. I am not talking about preparing ourselves to worship God, but rather about us trying to clean up our acts. We wear nice clothes, speak kind words, and pretend that our lives are better than they are. 

So, we begin to separate our lives into the “holy” and the “unholy”. The “holy” is obvious. It consists of the moments when we read our Bibles, pray to God, go to church gatherings, and share the gospel. The “unholy” is basically everything else. There are moments in the “unholy” where we may not be sinning, but we aren’t actively participating in “holy” acts. In the regular (or “unholy”) moments of life, it is often difficult to understand where God is. 

Reading the story of King Zedekiah left me dumbfounded. God was different from who I thought He was. I always kind of knew that God used broken people but I saw it clearly in the story. I saw that God used imperfect circumstances and imperfect people. It struck me then. God does not need my meager good works to accomplish His good works as a part of His plan.

God’s ultimate “good work” has already been accomplished in Christ. Ironically, Christ even came from a line of brokenness. Christ’s genealogy even lists King Zedekiah’s nephew. After the imperfect King Zedekiah ended the line of the kings of Judah, Jesus entered the scene many generations later as the perfect king. 

When Christ died, the curtain in the temple that separated the “holiest” parts was torn. Christ said “it is finished” and the hostility between unholy man and holy God broke down. God allows us now to come to Him as imperfect people and an imperfect church to allow Him to daily and weekly restore ourselves to Him. 

Jesus said:

I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance. – Luke 5:32

God now calls us to go to Him always. Wherever we are we don’t need to try to become “holier”, but just to become closer to Him. We will encounter a faithful God in ALL of our lives’ circumstances, not just the “holy” ones.

When I now do little things in life, I know God is there too. He isn’t waiting for me to finish the dishes and start preaching His Word, but is rather wanting me to call out to Him as I do the dishes, as I finish my homework, as I rest daily. So, church, let’s stop only looking for happy and “holy” circumstances and people, and let’s start running to our Father, especially in our brokenness.

Reaching the Unreached

Many members of the Anchored Passion staff are located in the Bible Belt. I can confidently say that there are numerous streets, both near my home in Tennessee and college in Alabama, that have more churches located on them than I can count on one hand, and even on my two hands sometimes. Since we are comfortably nestled in a place where Christianity is the norm, it is sometimes difficult to fully comprehend that there are unreached people groups in the world who have never even heard the name of Jesus before.

The Overwhelming Demand

An unreached people group is a group of people who have never heard of the Gospel before nor have a Bible translated into their language or dialect. According to the Joshua Project, “an unreached or least-reached people is a people group among which there is no indigenous community of believing Christians with adequate numbers and resources to evangelize this people group without outside assistance.”

“This means that these people groups are not merely outside of Christ but also outside the current reach of the Gospel,” The Church at Brook Hills global pastor Chip Bugnar said. “Practically speaking, a person among this people group will likely live and die without ever hearing the Gospel and therefore will perish outside of Christ.”

According to the Joshua Project, out of 17,459 people groups in the world, there are 7,422 unreached people groups, meaning there are 3.23 billion people who have never heard of the Gospel. While some people within these groups may identify as Christians or may have heard the Gospel, there are not enough members within the group or resources to enable a widespread, healthy growth of Christianity.

“Estimates and projections for those that identify as professing Christians are at or below 5% of the population and for those that identify as Evangelical Christians are at or below 2% of the population,” Radical project manager Daniel Weiss said. “So while there might be some Christians and churches within an unreached people group, their numbers are insufficient to allow for widespread Gospel access.”

Bugnar explained that The Church at Brook Hills, along with others, is shifting away from unreached people groups towards least-reached people groups for a qualitative threshold.

“A robust gospel infrastructure, gospel clarity, healthy churches, leadership development pathways and networks, scripture translation, resource translation, theological education, etc., is needed to qualitatively analyze where a people group is on the spectrum from unreached to reached or in our vocabulary: least-reached to reached,” Bugnar said.

It is important for people to not only hear the promise of the Gospel, but to also have resources, knowledge and leadership to promote spiritual growth and community in Christ.

The Great Commission

By Christ, Christians are called to fulfill the Great Commission, sharing the Gospel and making disciples of all nations.

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. – Matthew 28:18-20

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. – Ephesians 3:7-9

“As Believers in Jesus, God gives us the gift of salvation when we repent from our sins and believe in Him. We should be eager to share our salvation with others, including the unreached, whom have no access to the Gospel,” Pray for the Unreached operations director Conner Womack said. “The Bible also says that every tribe, nation and tongue will be represented around the throne in Heaven. This means that every people group, including those currently unreached, will be in Heaven, meaning Jesus can’t come back until they’re all reached.”

Bugnar expressed that the diversity of heaven’s worship beckons Christians to evangelize the unreached.

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. – Revelation 7:9

Even though the Great Commission is an important and vital call for all Christians, Weiss and Redeemer Community Church missions training coordinator James Minor explained that Christians are also called to remember God’s redemption shown throughout Scripture.

“We see throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation that God’s story is about rescuing peoples from all the earth to know and worship Him,” Minor said. “We care because we see the imbalance in our world today and that it is unfair that many of us in the states get to hear the Gospel over and over throughout our lives and never lack resources on the Bible and learning, but so many people around the world don’t get these chances to hear of the only One who can rescue them from the domain of darkness and transfer them to the kingdom of life with God.”

Witnessing God’s redemptive story throughout Scripture should motivate Christians to evangelize others, so they may also be redeemed through Christ.

“While the basis for missions is often reduced to the Great Commission, the entire Bible is full of God’s redemptive plan and purpose,” Weiss said. “We should passionately prioritize discipleship and evangelism to the unreached precisely because in not doing so, God’s plan and purpose for all creation cannot and will not be achieved.”

Christians need to focus not only on reaching people groups that are geographically remote or those that speak an uncommon dialect, but also on reaching the people within their communities who have never heard the Gospel before and never had someone invest in discipling them.

“We should testify about Jesus and share the good news with the ones that haven’t heard it before, even in our colleges or in our workplaces, so they would be able to hear the truth of the Gospel and choose if they want to place their faith in Jesus or not,” Pray for the Unreached outreach coordinator Lakshmi Trejo said.

Reaching the Unreached

“You may be still in college and asking yourself, ‘how can I impact the unreached right now as a college student while in my studies?’ and ‘I can’t go overseas next week’. There are still many ways to help see the unreached come to know Jesus,” Minor said.

The first step Christians can do to reach the unreached is to educate themselves on the demand and the specific people groups who need to hear the Gospel.

“I always find that knowledge and exposure are the most effective ways to overcome barriers of unfamiliarity,” Weiss said. “Familiarity breeds empathy, empathy breeds passion and passion breeds action.”

Radical, a resource ministry in Birmingham, Alabama founded by David Platt, is releasing a platform called Stratus in late April 2021 during Secret Church. Stratus will provide information on both the spiritual and physical needs of unreached people groups, prioritizing work and attention to the areas in most need.

“Our hope is that with access to the information that Stratus presents, the Church will have a tool that implicitly works to begin rectifying the great imbalance and equip people, pastors and churches all over the world to allocate their resources most effectively towards overcoming the barriers that keep people unreached,” Weiss said.

Another step Christians can take to reach the unreached is to devote a part of their prayer time to pray for unreached people groups.

“Pray for all these people that have never heard the good news, pray for their countries, for their hearts that they will be open to hear about Jesus and that they could experience the great love that God has toward the whole humanity,” Trejo said.

Christians can also pray for others to be led to share the Gospel and disciple the unreached along with praying for the missionaries who are already investing in these people.

“We can also ask the Lord to lift up women and men with the desire to go to these nations,” Trejo said. “We can pray for the missionaries that are already in these countries that the Lord may protect them, renew their strength and also pray that the Lord provides everything that they could need physically and spiritually.”

Another step Christians can take to reach the unreached is to become missionaries themselves. Bugnar encourages Christians to look at those who have discipled them as examples and mentors in order to help guide the Christians themselves to become a disciple to others.

“Start a conversation with your elders or pastors about how to be equipped and affirmed to be sent to engage the least-reached,” Bugnar said.

While not every Christian may be called to become a long-term missionary in a foreign country, there are other ways Christians can become disciples by utilizing other resources and spiritual gifts.

“For so many people, there is this conception that the only way to reach the unreached is to leave everything and become a traditional long-term missionary in a village somewhere very far away,” Weiss said. “But there is no wrong way to leverage your life, interests, gifts, finances, skills, passions and assets…the most important thing is to find a way to leverage your life that most uniquely reflects who you are, and the context God has put you in.”

Bugnar and Womack spoke of the importance of giving financially to your local church and other groups that support mission opportunities and church planting.

“Financially supporting missionaries to the unreached places is really important,” Womack said. “One percent of all money going to missions goes to unreached places. Americans spend more money annually on Halloween costumes for their pets than they do on unreached missions.”

Bugnar and Trejo stressed the importance of striving to break the language boundaries prohibiting Christians from sharing the Gospel. Trejo encourages people to consider learning another language. Bugnar encourages people to teach English on online apps, which could be a way to engage with the unengaged. Focusing on languages, Christians can also give to ministries and nonprofits that translate Bibles for these people groups, such as IllumiNations.

“The centrality of God’s purpose to receive worship from all peoples and the incomparable joy of partnering with God in accomplishing His purpose among the unreached should steer the thoughts, decisions and actions of every professing believer,” Weiss said. “There is no greater need and no worthier cause for God’s church.”