The Church is God’s strategy for getting the Gospel to every Nation. When the Church is distracted, even with good deeds, it will not see the outstretched arms of the destituted nor will it hear the anguish of their cry. It is time for the Church to join together and push against the gates of hell to release the captives.
ENDING THE TIMEOUT is designed to mobilize the Church to do just that!
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Excerpt from ENDING THE TIMEOUT - Moving the Church from where you are to where it needs to be
ARE YOU HEARING NOW?
And he said, "Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house — for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment." - Luke 16:27-28 -
The rich man had great possessions and lived a good life. He had no reason to notice the poor man covered with sores often left at his doorstep. The poor man had no friends, but the dogs who soothed the pain by licking his sores. He yearned after the leftover thrown from the rich man’s kitchen. Compared to the rich man, this poor man was a non-person. He was invisible.
One day the poor man died and was ushered into Paradise. The rich man also died and found himself tormented in hell. He looked up and in the distance he saw the poor man living in comfort with Abraham (Acts 16:23). In his torment the rich man called out to Abraham to be merciful and send the poor man to him to dip his bony finger in water to cool his tongue. Abraham reminded the rich man, it was not long ago the roles were reversed. The poor man was cradled in agony while he was alive, competing for food that was thrown from his kitchen. In the meantime the rich man was bathed in luxury and comfort. Now, Abraham was consoling the poor man while the rich man was left in tormented. As much as the poor man might have wanted to help, it was impossible because a golf had sealed their destiny.
The rich man asked Abraham to send the poor man back to warn his five brothers not to end up in the place of torment where he was (vs. 27). There is no indication of the relationship the rich man had with his brothers while he was alive with them, but now in his death he was desperately making the appeal on their behalf. He wanted them to avoid the torment he was experiencing. Could it be that the voices of countless numbers of people are crying out from the torment, beckoning the Church to take the message to the countless numbers of others who are still waiting to hear?
While it was too late for the poor man to go back to the rich man’s brothers, the Church can still take the Gospel to those who might be oblivious of the impending torment. Unlike what prevented the poor man from going back to warn the rich man's brothers, the temporal barriers such as governments, geography, religion, ethnicity, social and political divides cannot stop the Church from going forth with the message. The Church has no option but to be the voice sounding the alarm to those who are sitting in danger of torment before it is too late. Everyone who calls to God for help gets help. But how can people call for help if they don’t believe there is someone to help them? How can they know there is someone to help them if they have not heard of the One who can help them? How will they hear if no one goes to tell them? God is making Himself known among the nations. He empowers and sends His Church among them to show them they have help and to gather those to whom He reveals Himself.
Like it was for the poor man, thousands of people are finding themselves at the steps of the affluent Church today. They are the poor and abused, the fatherless and marginalized, refugees and immigrants, drug abusers and the homeless. They are the homosexuals and lesbians and those deceived by religion and other worldly ideologies. They are at the mercy of the Church as they wait to experience Christ's redemptive love. They are all sitting with outstretched arms crying out for help. Their spiritual eyes are glazed over and they stumble in the darkness of their brokenness waiting to be rescued. They longed to be touched by the love of Christ as they yearn for the crumbs of love and righteousness and the Church passes them.
For all the broken people across the nations to experience Christ's love, the Church must embrace them as people for whom Christ died. While the Church cannot endorse nor tolerate people's sinfulness, it must be opened to seeing them as Christ sees them. Christ mingled with persons of ill repute and was labeled as one. He did not interact with them out of sympathy. He accepted them and treated their brokenness. The Church must do the same as it demonstrates Christ's love to them. This way broken people can understand and accept the value of being created in the perfect image of the Father and allow Him to restore His image in them.
Jesus reminded the crowd, those who are sick are the ones who need a physician, and that He came not to call the righteous ones but sinners to repentance (Luke 5:31-32). Christ's Church will never allow the urgency of its own comfort and security to capture it and obscure its purpose.
The spread of the Gospel in the first century was extensive. The stalwarts of the faith overthrew kingdoms for the sake of the Gospel. Lions, fires and swords could not stop them. They turned disadvantage to advantage, won battles, defeated armies and endured beatings rather than retreat. Many lost their lives in cold blood and others became homeless, friendless, and powerless so many among the nations could hear and call on the name of the Lord. The Church must advance without compromise, even under the threat of torture and death.
The early Church was focused and intentional as it strove to bring the Kingdom of God near to the people. Members believed the words of Jesus, this Gospel of the kingdom must be preached throughout the entire world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14). They acted without fear not counting the cost. They understood the world’s possessions were temporal. Many looked for a city that could not be destroyed, instead of prosperity and security in the world (Hebrew 11:10).
Despite the world becoming more of a global village than a great expanse of nations, multitudes still have little or no knowledge of who Jesus is. What if the Church today was as focused and intentional about the spread of the Good News as their first century counterparts? Would the great multitude have already heard? Would Christ have already returned as He promised (Matthew 24:14)? What is known, is many more among the over six thousand unreached people groups would have already heard the Good News. What is preventing the rapid spread of the Gospel and why is it that over half of the world’s population is still oblivious of Christ’s redemptive work? Could it be the Church, particularly in the West, has become comfortable in the huddle it created? This comfortable Church can neither see nor hear those in the distance who are crying out for help?
Jesus communicated the strategy to His Church but sometimes it has become hard of hearing and too busy even to hear the cry of those who are crying in spiritual distress. The Church must be active and transient. It must always be on the move as it hears the many voices of those crying out in their hopelessness for help. Those already in torment are also crying out, 'Please send someone warn them!' The Church must go and at all cost make disciples among all the nations and equip and empower them to move!