By Dennis Cole
For our few centuries we have been a nation that has exported, among other things, Christianity to nations around the world. American evangelists have taken seriously the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:16-20. Christ was speaking to his disciples just prior to his ascension when he said the following: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”
Aside from being a great screen message for a T-Shirt, it is something Christ commanded his disciples and by extension you and me to do. If we are Christians, then we are bound by the words of the One we believe in to tell the world about him.
Recently, however, things have changed somewhat. American churches still send disciples of Christ across this globe, but something also is afoot: the fact that within our borders America always has been, and always will be, a fertile mission field. Changes in the Catholic Church, namely a decrease in priests and nuns answering the call domestically has led to an influx of clergy from other parts of the world, many from third world countries. To them I say “welcome.”
What a switch from just a few decades ago. How ironic, missionaries are coming to America to spread the Gospel. It is not just the Catholic Church in America that has dwindling clergy. Protestant denominations are experiencing attrition as well within their pastorate. The situation crosses pretty much all denominations flying the banner of Christianity. Big churches have big church problems and small churches have small church problems. The church is suffering ever more in Europe. No church is immune from the Devil’s attack because they are administered by humans.
Let me revisit this evangelical purpose we Christians are to fulfill. Also found in Matthew’s book is the Great Commandment, again this is Jesus speaking to all: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Put real simple, Jesus meant this: 1. Worship God, and 2. Be a blessing to others. Evangelism simplified — easy enough a caveman could do it.
Back for a moment to the mission field that America is. In this country we have millions of people who think they are going to heaven based on their own perceptions rather than what the Bible teaches. Evangelical Christians have a responsibility to God and to man to point the way to heaven in a manner that is easily understandable. Quite simply the keys to heaven can be found in the Bible, in John’s Gospel, specifically chapter 3 verse 16 and chapter 14 verse 6 (among others).
America is an abundant mission field begging to be harvested. Wherever people gather, the opportunity to evangelize is there. From the fertile aisles of Wal-Mart, to any place people gather, we Christians have tremendous opportunities to share the goodness of the Gospel. It does not have to be overt displays of doctrine. It can be as simple as doing good things for another, a smile, a kind act, a visit to the shut in, a call to a lonely friend. But done with love of Christ in one’s heart, and done to glorify God. We can show our community and by extension the world that ours is a faith based not on church rules or religion, but one rooted in a deep and personal relationship with Christ who loves all and offers eternal salvation to who ever believes in him.
We can, through the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, store up treasures in heaven. What greater gift can one give to another than to lead them to eternal life with God?
Cole is a lifelong resident of Meadville. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Dennis Cole
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This Week's Circulars
Family and friends of Joshua Harned are invited to call on Friday, Feb. 21, 10am to 12pm at Dickson Funeral Home and Crematory, 130 North 2nd St., Conneaut Lake. Funeral at 12pm at funeral home. Guestbook at www.hatheway-tedesco.com.