The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 3/17

Posted on | March 17, 2016 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 3/17

Scripture reading: Psalm 2

How the West Was Won

The kingdom of heaven is like a grain of mustard seed . . . It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants. (Matthew 13:31–32)

 

In recent years, numerous journalists, pundits, and sociologists have highlighted the demise of Christianity in America. What they usually mean by such a claim is that Evangelicals seem to have lost their political clout. To substantiate their thesis, they point to how churches are closing, ministries are shrinking, and new forms of spirituality are growing in popularity. Such data leads many of them to conclude that we are entering an anti-Christian era of American history. No one said it better than Bob Dylan decades ago: “The times, they are a-changin’.”

As followers of Jesus Christ, how should we respond to such a reality? Some will want to wring their hands in collective despair and lament, “Ain’t it awful. Let’s circle the wagons, hunker down, and pray for the Lord’s return.” Others will imitate the ostrich and bury their head in the sand, pretending that nothing has really changed and there is no reason for alarm.

I believe a far better response to the current crisis of faith in America is to turn our ears toward heaven and listen for the trumpet call to battle. Yes, the issues are real and the stakes are high. But the reality is that never before has the opportunity been greater for making a Kingdom impact on our culture. This is not a day for retreat. This is should be the church’s finest hour!

I’m intrigued by the many similarities between the twenty-first century and the fifth. Back then, paganism was gaining ground everywhere. The Roman Empire was crumbling; immorality was rampant; the barbarians were literally at the gates. And the institutional church was lethargic, impotent, and—for the most part— out of touch with what was happening. Many Christians felt the situation was beyond repair.

Although few people were aware of what was happening, God was at work in the cultural crisis of that day. At the western edge of civilization, on the little island of Ireland, a priest named Patrick refused to passively watch as his world collapsed. He saw the cultural chaos as a golden opportunity for the pure Gospel of God to be preached. His strategy for changing the world was simple: create monastic communities everywhere! Unlike monasteries in the east, Patrick refused to locate these communities in deserts or mountains. He did not want Christians to retreat from the world but to penetrate it! So he established his communities in cities and along sea lanes and major highways. These communities became little outposts of the Kingdom of God from which Gospel ministries touched the surrounding culture. In Patrick’s vision, the goal of the Christian life was not so much to save your own soul as to be the means of saving someone else’s!

The strategy worked. Within three generations, the whole island of Ireland had been substantially reached with the Gospel. But things didn’t stop there. The followers of Patrick turned their attention on the world. Fanning out from their remote island, ministry teams began to take the Gospel to the pagans and barbarians of Europe. Not only did they succeed in reaching the lost, but their influence also helped revive the institutional church. To a great degree, Patrick’s mission strategy explains how the West was won.

Do it again, Lord! Do it again!

 

Noah entered the ark a minority, but came out of the ark a majority.

—Adrian Rogers

 

point to ponder Don’t despise the day of small beginnings.

prayer focus Mission work in Muslim nations.

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