Disturbing Contrast



Last week I read about the global church south and east of us, that is exploding in growth with aims of taking the gospel back to Jerusalem and boldly proclaiming the good news of Jesus all along the way, much of that way dominated currently by Islam.  When this church calls others to follow Jesus, they tell them it will cost them perhaps their very lives but will allow them to enter into God’s plan for the restoration of the whole world.  As they prepare their people to witness, they teach them how to witness in prison and under extreme duress.

Then on Sunday we attended a growing multi-site church that by all western standards is fruitful and effective for the kingdom.  The pastor was beginning a new sermon series based on several family friendly films.  This particular week it was all about pursuing your dreams God’s way because God’s plans are for our good and blessing.  Basic message: each of us has a dream and God wants to fulfill our dreams and will see to it that all things work for our good if we will believe and trust and pursue our dreams in God’s way.  Even with this last proviso it seemed a lot more about me and you, than about God, the world and a people with whom we join Jesus in cosmic renovation that will bring God’s dream to every open person.

The church we attended told of some 150 persons baptized so far this year.  So, no question, fruitful and “successful.” But the contrast is disturbing.  Which sounds more like the NT?  Which promises the more daunting dream-come-true–my personal dreams providing I pursue them a certain way God approves or allows or a do-or-die march through valleys of death-shadows, amidst enemies who hate our Lord, toward claiming the Holy Land, even if it costs us everything?

While there are churches here and there in our part of the world who will baptize hundreds this year, I don’t think there are any that are likely to go totally viral.

But, among those who move resolutely in the footsteps of Jesus back to where the movement got started, whatever the cost, and however long it takes, there seems good reason to issue an “outbreak alert!”

“Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven,” Lord Jesus!

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