Going Global

2 Corinthians 10:15-16

April 27, 2008 | Brian Bill

A pastor friend sent me a quote this week that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind.  When Shane Claiborne was at Wheaton College he titled his senior thesis, “The American Jesus.” Here’s part of what he wrote: “I asked participants who claimed to be ‘strong followers of Jesus’ whether Jesus spent time with the poor.  Nearly 80% said yes.  Later in the survey, I sneaked in another question.  I asked this same group of strong followers whether they spent time with the poor, and less than 2% said they did.  I learned a powerful lesson: We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what He did.  We can applaud what He preached and stood for without caring for the same things.  We can adore the cross without taking up ours…”

I want to propose this morning that if we’re serious about growing in grace we’ll care about the same things that Jesus does.  And since God is a global God, as we grow, we’ll go global.  We’ve established in this series that spiritual growth is intentional, not automatic.  Two weeks ago we learned that if we want to grow in our relationship with God we must grow in our relationship with God’s Word.  Last week we were challenged with this truth: How we manage our minutes and money reveals who our Master is.  

One of the reasons I chose this topic today is because we can all stand to grow in our commitment to the cause of Christ around the world.  I’m greatly encouraged by this church’s desire to be challenged to grow and to take the next steps and I can’t wait to see how you’re going to respond today.

The Bad News

But before we go much further we need to state the obvious: most of us don’t care much about what’s going on around the globe.  According to The Ministry Area Profile Compass Report, only 6% of Americans believe that the church should be involved in global missions.  Within a ten-mile radius of our church, this same report reveals that only 5% of people in our community think the church should focus on global concerns.

This percentage is confirmed by the Reveal Spiritual Life Survey which found that of the 14 activities you want your senior pastor to be involved with, ranking dead last with only 5% is this statement: “involved in issues of global significance.” Still not convinced?  In an informal survey done in January by our missions committee among our small groups, while there are some in our church family who are missions-minded, most people don’t know who our missionaries are and they find that missions is frankly “boring.”  One person said, “Missions doesn’t mean anything to me.”

And so I have a real challenge today since 95% don’t want me to speak on issues of global significance.  On top of that, because many of you find this topic boring, I’m going to have to work extra hard to hold your attention.  This might be even harder to speak on than money matters!  Actually, what I want to do this morning is share with you God’s heart for the globe.  When we glimpse God’s heart I know that we’ll grow and our commitment will go global as well.  Incidentally, one of the suggested ideas for us to grow in our commitment to missions is for me to preach a sermon to change and correct some perceptions.  That’s quite a challenge.  I hope I can do that today.

The World is Flat

With the advent of the Internet and the pervasiveness of cable news, we are not only more connected to the world than ever before, our economy is internationally intertwined as well.  I don’t have to tell you what increasing demand and the falling dollar is doing to our oil prices.  Skyrocketing rice prices have caused some rationing in stores like Sam’s Club but even more concerning is that people in some countries can no longer even afford their staples.  According to the Chicago Tribune, worldwide food prices have soared 45% over the past year.  The World Bank has stated that 33 countries around the world are at risk of social upheaval as a result of acute increases in food and energy prices.  Violent protests have already taken down the government of Haiti and the U.N. on Friday called this a “global crisis.”

Rick Warren has been at the forefront of the P.E.A.C.E. Plan which is a massive effort to mobilize 1 billion Christians around the world to make a difference by attacking these five global giants:

P – Promote reconciliation by addressing spiritual emptiness

E – Equip servant leaders by addressing corrupt leadership

A – Assist the poor by addressing extreme poverty

C – Care for the sick by addressing pandemic diseases

E – Educate the next generation by addressing illiteracy

The needs are overwhelming, aren’t they?  But we must do something because as we grow, we’ll go global.  

Agents of the Good News

While my regular custom is to exegete one main passage of Scripture; this morning we’re going to take a survey of some significant verses from both the Old and New Testaments in order to catch a glimpse of God’s global concern.  

Genesis 12:1-3: “The LORD had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.  I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” The principle is this: God blesses His people so they can bless others.  God’s original intent has always been to bless all people through one people.

Exodus 9:16: (Referring to Pharaoh).  “But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” God’s name is to be proclaimed in the whole world and is made known even through people we might not expect.

Numbers 14:21: “… as surely as the glory of the LORD fills the whole earth.”  God’s glory is not limited to one group of people like Israel in the Old Testament or just for residents of Livingston County today.  God’s glory goes global.

Deuteronomy 10:19: “And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.”  God’s heart is for immigrants and minorities and the disenfranchised.  And as such, as God’s people we must love the least, the little and the lost all around us.

1 Kings 8:60: “So that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.”  God’s heart is for everyone everywhere to know Him.

Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”  The word “nations” here refers to people groups, not just geographical boundaries.  The gospel must penetrate these groups before Jesus will return.  According to the Joshua Project, there are over 16,000 different people groups in the world and there are still 6,800 that have not yet been reached with the gospel. Our job is unfinished until all the unreached are reached. 

Matthew 28:19-20: “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.” This has been called the Great Commission; but unfortunately it should more accurately be called the Great Omission in many churches today.  The command in this commission is for us to “make disciples,” which is why part of PBC’s mission is to “equip people to be growing and faithful followers.”  This extends not only to our community but to “all nations.”  This missions mandate is mandatory which means each and every one of us needs to be involved at some level in connecting and equipping, of reaching out and building up.  Incidentally, the REVEAL survey identified personal evangelism as a weak area for most of us.

Acts 1:8 tell us to make sure we are first Holy Spirit-empowered and then gives us a description of the places we are to be making disciples: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The Book of Acts is a missionary book as we see how growing believers took the gospel to the ends of the earth, starting in their own neighborhood and then to the globe.  We’ve fleshed this out as a church this way: We must reach our community, our county, our country and the continents.  We can’t pick and choose.  God’s already made the choice and set the parameters – now we must obey.

Romans 10:14-15: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?  And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?  And how can they preach unless they are sent?  As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”  It is not an option for us to send out missionaries – if people are going to hear people must be sent to them.  They need to hear before they will believe.  They won’t hear unless believers go.  And they won’t go unless they are sent.

Revelation 5:9: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation.”  This is great news because one day the task of missions will be complete!

As we grow, we’ll go global

Turn with me now to 2 Corinthians 10:15-16: “Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you.”  Writing to a church with a lot of internal problems and to believers who were frankly bored and spiritually stalled, Paul linked their spiritual growth to the global expansion of the gospel.  As we grow, we’ll go global.  I see two dimensions of our discipleship.

  • Be here.  Each one of us has field to be faithful in: “among you.”
  • Go there.  Everyone must also be involved in “regions beyond.”

I went back and reread the first chapter of a book called “From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya” this week.  This book was one of my textbooks during seminary.  Quoting John Foxe, who wrote the classic Book of Martyrs, Ruth Tucker writes: “In that age every Christian was a missionary.  The soldier tried to win recruits for the heavenly host; the prisoner sought to bring his jailer to Christ; the slave girl whispered the gospel in the ears of her mistress; the young wife begged her husband…everyone who had experienced the joys of believing tried to bring others to the faith…The New Testament statement of the Great Commission did not so much inspire missionary outreach as it described the automatic outreach of a vital dynamic faith.”  J. Herbert Kane adds: “What began as a Jewish sect in A.D. 30 had grown into a world religion by A.D. 60.”


Missions matter to the master

Do you remember the bracelets that said WWJD – What would Jesus do?  We know Jesus ministered to the poor and proclaimed good news to the captives.  I’d like to suggest that a better question to ask is WWJHMD – What would Jesus have me do?  As we’ve been learning in this series, if we’re going to grow, and if we’re going to go global, we’ll have to be intentional about it.   This is not just for “missions people,” it’s for all of us.  Missions matter to the master; do they matter to you?  As we grow, we will go global.

  1. Be involved both here and there. 

  2. Pick one missionary and correspond with them.  

  3. Understand that the costs for missionaries have gone up.  

  4. Practice crossing cultures in this county. 

The key is whether or not we’re going to be faithful and to take the responsibility to grow.  For when we do, we will go global.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?