"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." 1 Peter 3:15
Funny Thing About History… It Repeats
Have you ever wondered why Israel failed at their job to evangelize the world (Scripture calls it being a priest nation) and why they missed Jesus as their Messiah? And, are we falling into the same trappings in the US, now?!?!?! I think so…
I posed these questions to one of my classmates and this is what she said (I think she’s right):
I believe Israel looked inward partially because they were an “obstinate people”, as God declared through Isaiah (Isaiah 65:2), but also because they walked the fine line of not mingling with the Canaanites and other peoples they encountered during the Exodus and as they conquered the Holy Land, yet living life as the apple of God’s eye and slated to be a kingdom of priests. It can be hard to understand how to follow God without becoming legalistic. The same holds true today in the US today. One need not look far to find Christian groups that have separated so far from the rest of the world that they cannot possibly be a witness to those around them that don’t know Christ. Even just by spending almost exclusively time in our Christian circles, we can easily get caught up in a separate world.
Personally, I think that they focused in on the tangible aspect of the covenant – the land – without thinking about the purpose of the covenant (or rather they mistook the purpose of the covenant). I think they thought that they were so cool with God that He just loved blessing them for their own prosperity and enjoyment rather than the prosperity being a sign/proof to glorify God and make it possible for Israel to engage in the ministry of reconciliation.
I think we do the same here and now… We get so caught up in the tangible (the physical/material prosperity God has allowed this nation to have) and we get so comfortable in our own exclusive Christian circles that we become useless for the Kingdom (I say “we” on purpose, because I’m including me). I heard a quote somewhere that, “money (blessings) is (are) like manuer… it’s no good unless you spread it all around (like fertalizer)”… What God blessed Israel with and what He has blessed us with (corporately and individually) wasn’t just for our enjoyment and ease (why would there be so much about suffering in the NT if that were the case)… Instead it is for us to be a blessing to others in order to share God’s message of Love, forgiveness, righteousness, etc… You know, the ministry of reconciliation (spoken of in 2 Corinthians 5).
Like I said, I’ve been thining about ancient Israel’s failures for several years and somewhat paralelling that to the US. But, the stats Dr. Wheeler shared in my personal evangelism class were so shocking (i.e. some 90% + of Christians don’t actively share their faith AT ALL) that it shook me out of my stupor… I think now way more than ever that personal evangelism and world missions is not just an important aspect of the Christian life, but it is THE most important aspect of it… Greg Stier of Dare2Share ministries calls it “THE Cause.” I just hope we, as the Body of Christ, take our calling in Matthew 28 and 2 Corinthians 5 so much more seriously and that we get on board with God’s program so that we do not continue to flounder away in the same old rut that ancient Israel did.
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