As we continue our blog series called “Kingdom Vision,” it is our hope to live and orient our lives according to His ways and not merely our own. In this blog, we will explore how a kingdom vision embarks a concern for the vulnerable among the nations. Interestingly, to do so is not at the cost of those we serve locally as it leads to the flourishing of all.
Do What Pleases the Lord
What is discipleship? Doing a quick Google search, I found nearly 61 million results in .70 seconds! Ridiculous, is it not? As a regular part of our teaching with CLDI interns, it has become my habit to ask the obvious questions regarding our use of Christianese, churchy words that have become a part of our language that we fail to understand. In my opinion, discipleship is one such word that, when asked to define, rarely can we do so in a clear, concise manner. For the sake of my understanding, I strive to break things down into what I call the dumbed-down Basye definition in anticipation that it will lead to clearer application in my own life and the lives of those around me.
So what is discipleship? While there are many examples provided in Scripture, I have found Ephesians 5:8-10 to be incredibly helpful:
…for you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), as you try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
By the grace of God (see Ephesians 2), being rich in mercy, we have been made alive in Christ, having been rescued from the domain of darkness and transferred into His kingdom. Whereas once we were darkness, now we are light in the Lord! Having been made into a new creation, we are no longer enemies of God but His dearly beloved sons and daughters. Thus, God calls us to live out our new identities as children of the light. We are to be His followers, disciples if you will. So what does this look like for us? Learn what pleases the Lord… and do it; that is my understanding of discipleship.
A Heart for the Vulnerable
For over 21 years, I have been blessed to work and live in low-income communities of Denver, Memphis, and Billings. My wife and I have engaged and championed gospel-driven justice work our entire marriage as we have been convinced that in learning what pleases God, He cares for the vulnerable and is continually at work to restore all people, the haves and have-nots alike. As we have sought to live as disciples of Jesus to orient our lives (albeit imperfectly) to love and serve vulnerable communities, hands down, we affirm that we have partaken in the full life that Jesus referenced in John 10:10. In seeking the shalom of the community, we have experienced His shalom. What a gift!
So Many Needs
Nationwide there continue to be growing needs in our communities to address poverty, broken families, the income gap, joblessness, rising housing costs, addictions, and mental illness, to name but a few. Thus, the question: Why concern ourselves with the suffering of other nations when our own country seems in great disrepair? A fair question indeed. Speaking with Jesus as to when the fullness of His reign would come in Matthew 24, the disciples asked, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the age?” (v. 3). Forewarning them, and us, of the many hardships to come, Jesus tells them, “it is not yet the end… these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs” (v. 6,8). Before it gets better, it will get worse, and all nations will hate us because of His name. Yet do not lose heart, brothers and sisters. The one who endures to the end will be saved, for this “gospel of the kingdom shall be preached to the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come” (v. 14).
The end will come, the day when “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain.” On that day, there will be a multitude from “every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches.” And they will cry out with one voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” Upon the fullness of His kingdom to come, His redemption and restoration will be manifested to all those who have called upon the name of Jesus. There is no better solution for alleviating local poverty than the nations hearing and coming to believe in Jesus. To say it another way, the most loving thing Christians concerned with poverty in the US can do is actively support and encourage global missions, for then the fullness of His kingdom will come.
Taking the Gospel to South Asia
Lord willing, Kaleb and I will be leading our group of interns to South Asia to partake in an exposure trip in late May as an experiential training tool to further illustrate God’s heart for the nations, especially those who have little to no exposure to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In this particular country, less than 1.4% of the population identify as Christian, to which 96.5% of the people groups are considered unreached. Our prayer as we go is that: we have the opportunity to give witness to Jesus in such a way that people find salvation in Him, we be used to encourage local believers in the region, and our interns grow in their love for unreached nations such that they either prayerfully consider going to the nations as a full-time worker or actively serve to send workers to the field. Over the last 16 years of facilitating interns, I have witnessed God both: send workers to such places as the middle east and northern Africa and mobilize past interns to be used as champions to support the work of global missions.
In light of COVID and daily threats to travel restrictions, we live in the tension that we may not get to travel to South Asia, or we go but get stuck in-country if a lockdown ensues. Will you please pray for His leading on this journey to proclaim the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness? Many thanks. God bless.
1. New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).
2. Col. 1:13.
3. Rev. 21:4.
4. Rev. 7:9.
5. Rev. 7:10.