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Not Just About Us.

Posted by Gary Pauley on

A common criticism around the world of Americans is that they do not see the global picture. I was told a joke once while visiting another country about a local complaining to an American tourist that American’s are generally unaware of suffering in other countries. The American tourist replied, “There are other countries?”

Ok…that’s exaggerated silliness, and the same is likely true for people in every nation. People are most touched by what touches them directly. That is normal. What overcomes this is reading and talking to friends in other countries. These days many of us have friends all over the world. Most of us realize that Covid is raging in a number of countries all over the world. What is happening in India boggles the imagination. Most of us will never see days like they are seeing. There are real struggles with Covid in other countries as well. I have friends in a number of corners of the world who cannot leave their homes. A couple of my friends outside the US have told me their churches have been shut down again, along with nearly every public service.

There is a whole world of suffering and need outside of our shores and borders. God’s heart is for the world, and I am convinced ours should be also. A traditional Berakah, or blessing, of the Jewish people is a blessing of God as Melekh ha-olam—“King of the Universe” (Psa. 97:1-9). In the Law God claims that the whole earth is his (Ex. 19:5). The New Testament image of redemption is of people purchased by atoning blood from “every tribe, language, people, and nation” (Rev. 5:9. Also 7:9, 13:7, 14:6). God begins his redemptive project with Abraham and his people, which was intended to bring blessing to to “all the nations of the earth” (Gen. 22:18).

This week our friends left their home in the US to live in a place very different to be a light of the Gospel. We celebrate their work and calling because it represents the heart of God for the nations of the earth. Our prayers should follow through with this value. I often hear, “We really need to pray for our country.” And that is certainly true. But we also need to pray for the nations of the earth. And not any less than our own. Our evangelistic compassion should not be specially reserved for our own people.

The suffering of people all over the globe has them looking for hope where hope can’t be found. For every injustice we experience in the US, so many experience ten more. Many cannot name a Christian friend in their orbit. Their government is not going to come through in their hour of need. Or even for basic needs. They are lighting incense and appealing to dead ancestors for relief. I recently was told that in Uganda the police still find sacrificed children from rituals performed by shamans intended to bring relief and luck to impoverished families.

The need for prayer here is great. It is also great worldwide. The need for evangelistic acts of mercy is great here. It is also great worldwide. What can we do about this?

At the very least, we can be a strong local church. Our calling to stay healthy as a local church directly impacts our ability to unite together in acts of compassion and relief. The SBC can continue to be a force for good and gospel in the world when its churches are healthy and strong. Attendance, involvement, connection, prayer, giving, phone calls, notes of care, volunteering—all play a part in the overall health of a local church family. Our Covid season seems to be receding. It’s time to shore up our fellowship, bond together in new ways, and make a difference where we can in our world.

See you Sunday. Let’s talk more about it.

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