December 10 I Monday
“…in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” —Acts 1:8
Evangelizing the world is essential to the mission of the church. A church that does not evangelize is a contradiction in terms. It is like a fire that does not burn. If we are not evangelizing, we might call ourselves a church, yet we are little more than a religious club that receives teaching and uplifting but fails to complete the job for which we exist.
There is a series of ever-expanding circles of evangelism in the opening verse. Jesus first instructed His disciples to preach to Jerusalem, the immediate city in which they found themselves. As founder of The Peoples Church Oswald J. Smith said, “The light that shines the farthest will shine the brightest at home.” Next, the disciples were to preach to Judea, the larger province that shared their culture, and to the neighbouring Samaria, which was hostile territory. Jews hated Samaritans, thinking these former Israelites had abandoned the covenant with God when the Assyrians conquered and intermarried with them in 722 B.C. But the Gospel is not reserved only for our friends, and Jesus instructs His disciples to cross cultural boundaries and share His truth even with their enemies.
Lastly, the disciples were to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. The apostle John shares a beautiful picture of the fulfillment of this, writing, “There before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb” (Revelation 7:9).
Though evangelism is the church’s mission, we must remember that we never save anyone. No Christian has ever saved another soul; that is entirely a miraculous work of God. God alone creates the thirst in others for His truth. At most, it is our responsibility to share the Gospel at His prompting, leaving it to God to fulfill His promise that all who seek Him will find Him.
We must not let comfort or complacency distract us from our mission. Evangelism is the whole church taking the whole Gospel to the whole world. No Christian is exempt. Each setting is different, which gives each congregation a unique opportunity to play their part in the church’s local and global mission. Throughout Acts, we see the church develop in Jerusalem, its spread into Judea and Samaria, and even Paul ministering in Rome, the heart of the greatest empire of the day. Today, we have technology of which the apostles could only dream: mass printing, airplanes, microphones, radio, television, the Internet, social media—the ends of the earth more connected than ever before. The baton of evangelism is in our hands; how will we pass the message on?
Prayer: Almighty God, what a privilege to be part of Your mission to evangelize the world. Grant me courage, creativity and eyes to see where You want me to share. Thank You, Lord