*Do We Have a Global Vision?
Even though we live in a “global village” many churches today have a limited vision and concern. They are so bent and focused on themselves that they forget the universal mission of God as conveyed to us by His Son Jesus Christ (see Mt. 28:19-20).
How is our church? What kind of vision do we have? The answer to these questions can be seen most clearly from our prayers and our mission life. Let’s check these against the words of apostle Paul who passionately carried on the vision of our Lord Jesus Christ. He urges the following in 1Timothy 2:1 to 4:
First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings bemade for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
It is clear from the repetition of all (4 times) that “God’s desire concerns everybody and Christ’s death concerns everybody.” Therefore, the church’s prayers and proclamation should also concern everybody.
Apostle Paul starts by urging us to pray and intercede for all people. Thus, he assumes that the church of Jesus Christ will be first of all a praying and worshiping community, and the supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for all people.
How is our congregation obeying this command? John Stott is probably correct when he says that this verse “immediately rebukes many of our evangelical churches today,” because their perspective is “not global but parochial.” We pray for our members and for our needs, but our embrace never reaches the whole world.
He continues to give an illustration about a visit that he made to a far away church. He slipped inside and sat on the back row. When the time came for the pastoral prayer, it was led by a lay brother. “He prayed that the pastor may have a good holiday. Well, that is fine. Pastors should have good holidays. Second he prayed for a lady member of the church who was about to give birth to a child for a safe delivery, which is fine. Third he also prayed for another lady who was sick, and then it was over. That is all there was. It took twenty seconds.”
How are the prayers in our church and our personal lives? Apostle Paul clearly urges us to have a global prayer life. The example from John Stott is the example of a village church which seems to have a village God. They seem to have no interest on the world outside. He comments that “there was no thinking about the poor, the oppressed, the refugees, the places of violence, world evangelization…”
The biblical model is that of a local community with a global vision and mission.
In 1885 William Booth, the founder of Salvation Army, was addressing a mass rally of London Salvationists when, with a twinkle in his eye, he asked them the question, “How wide is the girth (circumference) of the world?” Large numbers of Salvationists replied, ”Twenty-five thousand miles.” Then roared Booth in reply, his arms outstretched, “We’ve got to grow until our arms get right round about it.” Amen.
May this passion and fire kindle our church too. I think that we need to ask God to forgive us for our limited vision and inward bent. Let us ask God to have mercy on us and to broaden our minds and give us a sense, a global sense, of our Christian responsibility.
And because today is election day in this country (South Korea), let’s not forget to pray for the next president and for our leaders. Though our community is small and local, let’s pray that God will make us a community with a global vision, for the glory of God’s great Name. AMEN.
*This message is indebted to John Stott’ sermon: The Global Context of the Local Church (1 Timothy 2:1-7). The quotations and the illustration with William Booth are from his sermon as found in Ten Great Preachers (edited by Bill Turpie).