Today God would say, ‘It is too small a thing for you to give yourself only to the restoration of the church in your small corner of the world. I call you to be a light to the nations, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth. Don’t be so preoccupied with the 10% when the 90% outside need to hear my word.’
Restoring the church is a worthy cause, but beware of introspection. ‘We had a beautiful time of worship this week. The music is coming together nicely. People are really opening up to one another now. Lots of hurts are getting healed.’ Rejoice that your church is no longer boring. Rejoice when God moves among you. Rejoice when relations, neighbours and friends are saved. But don’t become so totally preoccupied with the scrutiny of bells, tassels and pomegranates that you forget God’s vision for the nations.
Doubtless many aspects of New Testament church life still need to be recovered, but don’t grow stagnant and inward-looking, forgetting God’s great plan to reach all the families of the earth. It’s too small a thing to concentrate exclusively on restoring your little patch when God wants to lift your head, show you the harvest field, and send you to dying sinners with his glorious message of salvation.
Jesus isn’t just head over the church, be it local or universal. He said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me’ (Matt. 28:18). He’s head over all things (Eph. 1:10). He’s ruling as king over every nation at this very minute.
Don’t think, ‘That’s a Moslem nation; that’s a Hindu nation; that’s a Communist nation; and of course we’re a backslidden Christian nation.’ God thinks differently. While looking down on Nineveh, He didn’t say, ‘I’d be concerned if such wickedness were apparent in Judea, but what more can you expect from heathen Nineveh?’ Rather, when God saw how wicked the Ninevites were, he couldn’t stand it and sent someone to warn them.
When God looks down on any nation, he doesn’t simply view it as ‘heathen’ and quickly put it out of his mind. He sees the terrible contrast between rich and poor in India. He watches their idol worship. He observes China’s dreadful policy of infanticide and its soaring abortion rate. He knows about nations where people are torn away from their families, unjustly beaten and thrown into prison. He sees the ravages of AIDS in Africa. He notices the UK’s battered children and increasing crime rate.
God is saying, ‘Go!’ That’s what you have been called to do: to reach the nations – all of them! Jesus said, ‘This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations’ (Matt. 24:14). He said that we’d be hated by all nations (Matt 24:9) and that one day all the nations would be gathered before him (Matt. 25:32).
You could spend hours trying to work out the intricacies of various doctrines or church practices in an attempt to get all the details absolutely right. Indeed, there will always be something not quite perfect that will need your attention. But what about the world? The restoration of the church has consumed you, but now a new day is dawning. Whereas the word ‘church’ has stirred you, let the word ‘ nations’ burn in your heart – because it’s time to look at the harvest fields and it’s time to go.
“Not called!” did you say? “Not heard the call,” I think you should say. Put your ear down to the Bible, and hear Him bid you go and pull sinners out of the fire of sin. Put your ear down to the burdened, agonized heart of humanity, and listen to its pitiful wail for help. Go stand by the gates of hell, and hear the damned entreat you to go to their father’s house and bid their brothers and sisters and servants and masters not to come there. Then look Christ in the face – whose mercy you have professed to obey – and tell him whether you will join heart and soul and body and circumstances in the march to publish his mercy to the world.’