The billboard and TV adverts exhorting us to obtain a Sky HD box in time for the World Cup proclaims: “50 million believers”. Imagine…. I don’t mean England winning the world cup. That will take more than a miracle. No, I mean, imagine Britain with 50 million believers. What would it be like to live in a country where 85% of the population are believers?
50 million believers. Would there be less crime? Fewer burglaries? Less vandalism? Lower stress levels? Less domestic violence? Fewer divorces? Less drug addiction? Lower suicide rates? Fewer abortions? Less child abuse? Lower terror threats? Fewer police? Less social workers? More security? Stronger marriages? Greater harmony? Happier people? A more desirable place to live? Heaven on earth? Possible? Achievable? Could the change of government last week achieve it? I wouldn’t hold your breath. But could the Spirit of God do it working through 5 million believers and around 40,000 churches in the UK?
How many people do you know well? In your circle of family, your friends, your work colleagues, your neighbours? I bet you know at least ten people well enough to have an honest in-depth open conversation about what matters most in your life. At least ten people that should be on your prayer list, your watch list, your Christianity Explored invitational list, your ‘please come with me to this special event’ list.
You see when Christ ascended to heaven, having died to save the world, he entrusted that message to eleven ordinary men.
The fate of the world, humanly speaking, rested in the hands of those eleven 1st Century men. What did he tell them to do? “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.” (Acts 1:8)
Let me ask you. Has the assignment changed in 2000 years? Do we have the same Holy Spirit that they received on the Day of Pentecost? So what has changed? When you think of ‘church’ what comes to mind? On a spectrum of community groups where would you place the church, say between, Wentworth golf club and say a… Taliban training camp in Afghanistan? I can guess which you would feel most comfortable in, but which is closest to the biblical church?
I’m not talking about methods. I am talking about vision, about dedication, about intentionality, about impact, about sacrifice. If you asked a Taliban leader what his vision is, what do you think he would say? They want to bring the whole world into submission to Almighty God, obedient to the Law of God.
And they are waging a war, a literal war against those they deem as decadent, immoral, disobedient and unbelieving. While we totally repudiate their methods, do we not long to live in a world where at the name of Jesus every knee should bow? Voluntarily? Willingly, freely, joyfully, in grateful thanks for all Jesus has accomplished for us in his death in our place?
Then what are we doing to achieve it? If you are not sure, read my paper on the Christian Jihadist which I gave in Toronto last weekend at a gathering of evangelical and Muslim leaders.
The church is the hope of the world. The only hope of the world. It was true on the Day of Pentecost. It is true today. Please turn with me to Ephesians 3 and lets consider three simple, memorable reasons why you should value your Church – if you want a closer walk with Jesus, if you want to fulfil God’s purposes, if you want to change the world.
1. Come because Jesus is here (3:1-5)
2. Come because the end is near (3:7-11)
3. Come because his family is dear (3:6, 12-13)
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