We woke today to reports that ISIS is expanding rapidly into Southeast Asia and Libya. The latter is especially troubling, given Libya’s proximity to European targets. And we’re learning that ISIS is sponsoring “lone-wolf” terrorism more effectively than ever before, essentially making us all targets.
The Islamic State has a global agenda, one bent on dominating humanity. Jesus has a global agenda as well, one bent on saving humanity. Ultimately, the battle with ISIS is a spiritual war, won one soul at a time. And you and I have a crucial role to play.
Many years ago I heard a pastor state that every Christian should have a personal Acts 1:8 strategy—his or her ministry in the community (Jerusalem), the region (Judea and Samaria), and the world (the “ends of the earth”). I have reflected many times on the truth of that statement.
We should never assume that our personal Jerusalem has already been reached with the gospel. I grew up in Houston, Texas, a town famous for numerous megachurches. Yet I never heard the gospel before I was invited by a church to ride their bus to worship when I was 15. I had no idea that Jesus had died for my sins, and no concept of personal salvation.
The last church I pastored was in Dallas, another city with many famous churches. Yet demographic research found more than 100,000 people within three miles of our campus who were not attending any church. Clearly, every Jerusalem needs the gospel. We are missionaries to our communities. You and I can share Christ with neighbors who will not come to us until we go to them.
“Judea and Samaria” ministries require different strategies. Here believers must partner with each other, working with local Christians and utilizing various media to share the gospel. “Ends of the earth” ministries require yet a different approach, one involving partnerships with global organizations, media strategies, and short-term missions engagements.
My purpose today is not to define the strategy by which God will lead you to fulfill Acts 1:8. It is to assure you that the Holy Spirit will define such a strategy, if you are willing to follow it. No one in the Bible received a five-year plan. Paul thought he should go east when he was called west (Acts 16:6-10). Rome thought they silenced John when they exiled him to Patmos—they had no idea that he would receive the Revelation and plant a church that still worships on the island 20 centuries later.
Most Christians believe that God has a particular place where he intends them to live and serve. We are less familiar with the fact that he also has a particular time in which we are to serve his Kingdom. It is by his providence that you were not alive 100 years ago, or 100 years from now (if the Lord tarries). He equipped you for this precise moment in history, and is calling you to be his salt and light in your community and around the world.
John R. W. Stott noted, “We must be global Christians with a global vision because our God is a global God.” ISIS has a global strategy. What’s yours?