What in the World is God Doing
A GLOBAL GLIMPSE OF GOD'S HARVEST TODAY
If there's anything we've learned from the past few years of globe-watching, it's that the near future holds anything but the expected. Our era on this planet will not be "business as usual" politically, economically, socially, or personally. The prophet Habakkuk put it this way:
Look at the nations and watch and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told. -Hab. 1:5
If the Lord gives it to us by delaying His return, the twenty-first century is going to be a wild time of spiritual significance. Today He is calling unprecedented numbers of people to Himself. Suddenly He is packing into one place, at one time, more valuable human souls than at any other time in history.
There is something infinitely significant about the time in which we live, so we'd best keep tuned to the big picture of what God is doing. We can catch a glimpse of that big picture by keeping up with the latest global trends in the harvest force and the harvest fields.
The Harvest Force
Here's what's happening in the harvest force:
Water reclamation engineering
The Harvest FieldsLooking at the harvest force is one thing. But what's happening in the harvest fields? Here are some of the major trends:
Your World view
When one teen from a Christian high school (class of '94) was asked what he plans to do with his life, he replied, "Uh, I'm going to get through college, get a good job, make good money, have a good life, and I guess just hope America survives. This young man doesn't understand what God is doing in the world today. God is bringing millions and millions of men, women, and children to Himself from every people, tribe, tongue, and nation (Rev. 5:9). He is challenging churches to revive, evangelize, and bless their own cultures. He is linking up global partnerships between cultures and established churches. And He is planting churches in every remaining unreached people group on earth. He is building His Church globally, and the gates of hell are not prevailing against it.
In comparison to what God is doing, what are many of us doing? We are living our lives with the same world view as the young man who talks about living a good life and hoping America survives. The Living Bible paraphrases a proverb that reflects this view of life: "What a shame. Yes, how stupid to decide before knowing the facts!" (Prov. 18:13). When we know His Word, His world, and His work, we can intelligently find our place in our own or another culture. But many of us are shrinking from the demands of our global era in the following ways:
Some of us are waiting nervously for Heaven. We're scared to look over our back fences at the darkness of a world gone wild. We're afraid for our children. Yet God has not given us a spirit of fear or timidity. Why, then, do we huddle in our corners, anxiously looking for the return of Christ to escape the world's dangers? Is that the legacy we want to leave our children? If we live like this - if we refuse to join with God in what He is doing today-we will miss the exhilarating rush of true-grit faith and Christ in us.
Some of us are confused. We glance at the crashing fireworks of our era, scratch our heads, and wonder what's happening. Ralph Winter, founder of the U.S. Center for World Mission, suggests we're often like dogs trotting through the Louvre museum - seeing the most incredible art on earth but understanding nothing. Will we be like the sons of Issachar who "understood the times and knew what Israel should do" (I Chron. 12:32), or like the clueless citizens of Jerusalem who "did not recognize God's moment when it came" (Lk. 19:44, New English Bible)?
Some of us are trying to live Sunday-school-as-usual lives. Head-in-the-sand ignorance about our mission to the world is one thing. Fiddling while Rome burns is quite another. With the insight God is giving us about the harvest fields of the world, we incur great accountability when we do not respond to the need. King Solomon put it this way:
Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, "But we knew nothing about this," does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done? -Prov. 24:11-12Our children deserve more than good Sunday school lessons. Their lives will not be like ours; they won't have time to fiddle. Now is the day to raise up radical Christians, believers who are armed and dangerous on a global scale, soldiers of the Cross who are more concerned about God's heart for all peoples than they are about their own comfort. The Cause needs believers who are prepared to give their right arms for the Kingdom. Specifically, the North American Church needs a vision beyond itself.
The Church with a VisionAs we follow Jesus, we tend to focus on our own next step: Where is He leading me next? Am I growing properly as a Christian? But Jesus often shook up his disciples' preoccupation with themselves. His command is startling: "Open your eyes and look at the fields!" (Jn. 4:35). It's reasonable to watch your step in a field, of course. But it's also stultifying if that's the range of your vision. You need to look up and out!
We're walking through the middle of a wonderful, terrifying, exciting, challenging, ripe harvest field of diverse cultures. And that perspective is crucial to see how our walk with Him fits in with His great, worldwide plan.
Especially in North America we believers need to get better at lifting up our eyes. If we interpret our discipleship in Jesus Christ only in light of what we see in our own backyards, we're going to miss the historic miracles happening around us as He continues to make disciples of every nation.
In this breathtaking sweep of history, let's not keep our eyes on our own feet to the extent that we miss the beauty of the whole Body, fitted and joined together. Building itself up in love from Novosibirsk to New Jersey.
Let's recognize God's moment.
Copyright Bill and Amy Stearns. Used by permission.