The Nations will see God’s glory
“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”God promises to fill the earth with his presence and power in many ways in his word, the Bible. He purposes to bless all nations through a people who know him (the Jews), through His Son Jesus, and through the Kingdom of Jesus which will be established as the Holy Spirit leads the disciples of Jesus out into mission. Jesus’ famous words at the end of Matthew’s gospel, which we call the Great Commission, sum this up: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” It is important that all of us Christians understand the place that we have in seeing the knowledge and love of God flow into the nations. In days past, the church used to send out missionaries to other nations to engage in this task, while the church at home just carried on its own life and ministry. So there used to be “missionaries”, “Christian workers”, and ordinary Christians just getting on with life and work where they are. This is rather a crude charicature, but it carries a lot of truth in the perception of God’s people.We surely need to understand that, in God’s world, all God’s people are missionaries. Especially in our multicultural western world we have a growing un-churched population that is growing up not knowing much about God at all. Where there are perceptions about God, they are often misguided, as people react to what they have seen or known of church. We have a huge task on our hands – but we have huge opportunities as well!A good one-third of the world’s population have some Christian faith. Some of that is really lively, some a bit religious. This is a source of huge hope that the other two-thirds can also come to know Christ in a living way. But if the other two-thirds of this world’s population is going to find Christ, we need to think about how this can happen in our day, and be determined to play our part.If this is to happen, some things need to be clear!
- We need to portray a good picture of God. This means, one that is faithful to the Bible, which talks about God as loving and compassionate, abounding in mercy. He is a God who brings hope and redemption to people with broken lives, who longs to pour down blessings upon people, and who wants people to know Him, as the source of their joy and life.
- We need to have a right understanding of the huge privilege we have of knowing God, and therefore being able to offer his life and hope to others! Today is a day of creative opportunities, when God wants to give us all sorts of new ways of engaging with people on the level of our faith. If the earth is to be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God, we need to live our lives more like festivals of faith rather than dreary rounds of routine.
- We need to be driven by the future. This life is a great gift to us. Living in God’s world, with all the beauty of his creation and the joy of human relationship is a wonderful thing. Being able to live this life here with God Himself as part of our lives in an incredible gift too. But there is going to be a new heaven and a new earth, where we can also live much more closely in the presence of God. This will be an even better life than this one, and is available to all who get to know God now!
- Finally, while the field of action for most of us is on our doorstep, it is good to know what is happening in other parts of God’s world. It is great to inform ourselves, pray, think of God’s people elsewhere. We have great opportunities to go on short-term mission, or longer-term mission, or to support mission in a variety of ways. In a day when we think globally as never before, the church needs also to think globally as never before, and understand how the life of God is breaking through in all sorts of places. It’s an exciting day! May the glory of God grow and increase in all of his world.