Week 21 (May)
There no doubt about what the resurrected Christ wanted for His people. He wanted them to be power-charged. The last words of Jesus which Luke records in his gospel underscore that.
There is a reason why Jesus wants His people to be power-charged. Just prior to His admonition to wait until they were "clothed with power from on high" Jesus talked to His followers about preaching repentance and forgiveness to all nations.
You would, of course, expect a cross-cultural missionary like me to highlight the connection between the prophesied evangelization of the world and the promise of the Father for power. I do hope, however, that such an emphasis drawn from this passage is more than just a go-to sermon theme for missionaries in deputation services while on home assignment. The task for which Jesus promised power is still far from finished.
Not long ago a man expressed astonishment at my statement in a sermon that two billion people on earth still know nothing of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. That man had been under the impression that the job of proclaiming God's redeeming love in every corner of the world was nearly done. [ more on the unreached ]
It is true that revivals are going on like fire out of control in many parts of Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Outside North America, one thousand new churches open their doors for the first time every Sunday. A century and a half after David Livingstone went to Africa, more than 250 million Africans identify themselves as Christian. That makes Africa, south of the Sahara, substantially Christian.
Christianity is now so widespread that more than one-third of the people in the world are either committed to Christ, or at least claim to be Christians.
On the other hand, 84 percent of the non-Christians in the world are outside the reach of any evangelistic efforts of any church or mission organization.
It would appear that to accomplish what the Father sent the Holy Spirit to empower us to do, we need a massive new evangelistic push. We will need the promised gift of the Holy Spirit in an effort to reach this vast number of people who are still beyond the reach of any church or mission effort -- people that missiologists call "the unreached peoples."
A few years ago we Nazarenes had a "March to a Million." Assessing the current world situation in the light of Luke 24, it appears we need to let the promised Holy Spirit guide us into a "March Toward the Three Billion!" [ see missions statistics ]
We need not to be afraid of being on the cutting edge of the fulfillment of a prophecy. Perhaps if the two and a half million members of the Church of the Nazarene would commit themselves totally to the Great Commission, we'd be willing to support 1,500 career missionaries instead of 600.
I wrote these devotional thoughts while we were serving as missionaries in Italy. They originally appeared in the May 25, 1980 edition of Standard, a take- home piece for adult Sunday school classes.
|Large groups of people remain unevangelized today in what
missiologists call the 10/40 Window. [ read more ]|
Missionaries needed [ read more ]
Howard Culbertson, 5901 NW 81st, Oklahoma City, OK 73132
| Phone: 405-740-4149 - Fax: 405-491-6658
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