“As you go, proclaim the good news, 'The kingdom of heaven has come near'” (Matthew 10:7). Because we have received freely the gift of salvation, it is God’s desire that we give it to others. Therefore, since the first generation of Christians there has been the intentional mission effort of the Church. It begins in the Gospels (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-18; Luke 24:47-49); and continues in Acts (Acts 1:8).
Giving away the Gospel resulted in thousands coming to faith on one occasion, but more importantly, the gathering together of Christian communities (Acts 2:37-47; 4:32-37). Often miraculous healings occurred as the apostles obeyed Jesus’ command of Matthew 10 (Acts 5:12-16).
But there was also opposition as persecution arose (Acts 5:17-42). Both Jews and Romans tried to prevent members of the early church from witnessing about Jesus the Christ who had been crucified in Jerusalem not long before. Their main contention was the insistence of Jesus’ followers that he rose from the dead and was seen by at least 500 people (1 Corinthians 15:3-8).
21 centuries later we find ourselves still sharing the same Gospel and not surprisingly, still suffering the same opposition. True, in some countries the opposition is more about indifference and religious discrimination, but there are several places in the world today where followers of Jesus face the same threats of violence and death experienced by the first generation of Christians. More Christians have been martyred in the past century than in all the previous 20. Yet, the Church continues to grow phenomenally in some of the most hostile places imaginable!
Some people suggest that we should leave people of other faiths to their own beliefs. Some Christians even (mistakenly) think that we are all going to the same destiny but by different paths. If we ignore them, we ignore God and make a mockery of the death of Jesus on the cross which opened the way of salvation for us. This would mean we care nothing about the certainty that they (unbelievers) will spend eternity in hell. The compassion and love of God is totally lost on us. And we have not understood our own salvation which we received so freely, through the mercy of God. Because like everyone else, we do not deserve God’s mercy.
1. Pray that the Holy Spirit will so stir our hearts we will totally give ourselves to Him for His purposes, and that we will surrender ourselves to His purifying fire;
2. That through the Holy Spirit we may know the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3) as together we build unity amongst ourselves;
3. That our spirits might be quickened, made alive to the urgent need for all of us to be ‘witnesses… even unto the ends of the earth’.