“Whenever we are tempted to despair about the shape of American Christianity, we should remember that Jesus never promised the triumph of the American church. He promised the triumph of “the church.” Most of the church, in heaven and on earth, isn’t American. Maybe the hope of the American church is right now in Nigeria or Laos or Indonesia or Argentina. Jesus will be King, and his church will flourish. And he’ll do it in the way he chooses, by exalting the humble and humbling the exalted…That atheist on the highway in front of you, the one who just shot you an obscene gesture, he just might be the one who evangelizes your grandchildren” (Russell Moore, Onward:Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel).
Such insightful and encouraging words. We may often fail to look at the world with eyes that see that the church is geographically spread far beyond America. I have constant contact with a pastor and evangelist friend in Bihar, India. I am often floored by all the ministry activity that is going on in that area. We share ideas and resources with each other and it encourages me to know that we are doing the work of the ministry together even though we are separated by thousands of miles. We serve the same Jesus Christ. We have the same intentional focus and passion. We were drawn together by that passion. We are brothers. I never begin to feel that we in America have it all figured out when it applies to the ministry. Oftentimes, I am so easily distracted here in America that hearing from the mission fervor in other countries redirects me and let’s me see things from a different perspective.
Now, what really stirred the writing of this blog is some of the things going on in our country right now. We are sometimes forgetting our call to the nations especially when those nations have come right to our doorsteps and neighborhoods here in America. We are surrounded by many nationalities and I am beginning to think that God is providing that as an opportunity. We no longer have to go thousands of miles to engage other cultures and nationalities. We can do that right here. We just have to have our eyes open and our hearts in the right place. Our cultural differences should not deter us from engaging in relationships or discussions with others about Christ. Even the atheist mentioned in the comment above might at first seem to never be someone whom God could save and use but if we thought that way we would be narrow-minded.
Now apply this to those that people are having the most difficult engaging or having an evangelistic heart for. Muslims, homosexuals, atheists, secularists and the list goes on. We might be tempted to quickly right them off as beyond God’s gift of grace or that they would never change their worldview or beliefs. We may even let fear keep us from seeing things in the right way. We may view those of other religions as extremists who are to be avoided at all costs. But what if God has them here because it will be they whom He uses to deliver many from false beliefs. What if we were the ones who disciple them in the faith that they ultimately will share with others. God can change the life of even the strongest opposed to Him. There are many examples of this in His Word and in our own personal lives and stories.
So the big picture here is to engage all we meet regardless of how we think they may respond. We should also encourage and assist those nationals here and abroad to reach their own countries. After all, it is one church.