Do You Know the Finish Line?
Anyone who runs a race has an unstated expectation. A finish line exists…somewhere. If you have trained hard, paid your fee, and on race day put on your number bib and timing chip, you may also have surveyed the course. All runners want to know, “Where do we finish?” We want to know where to push that last sprint, when we can stop, and what place we secured.
But as Christians who wait expectantly for Jesus, do we know what Jesus considers the finish line before His return? You’ve probably heard bible teachers state that “everything has been accomplished” and “Jesus can return at any moment.” We do not disagree that Jesus can return any moment He wants. He is God and He has that ability and power.
However, Jesus actually provides a clear indication of what He desires before the “trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend” (as the song goes). In Matthew 24 Jesus described the coming deception and turmoil that will plague the earth. Then Jesus delineated a clear finish line.
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony TO ALL NATIONS (ethnic groups), and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14
Jesus’ deep concern for lost people restrains Him until every ethnic group experiences the kingdom of God. We as the Church need to realize currently there are still hundreds of unengaged and unreached people groups. The good news is that there are tens of thousands of churches and multiplied millions of Christians who can do something about that. Now we have our work cut out for us.
So what can we do?
1. Pray Intently. Jesus claims that his house “is to be a house of prayer for all nations” (Mark 11:17). Does your church pray for the unreached of the world when they gather? If not, ask for it, start it, do it. Make sure your Sunday School class or your small group prays for the unreached. Push towards the finish line through intentional prayer.
Join with thousands of other Christians Sunday, June 4 (Pentecost Sunday in 2017) for the Day of Prayer for the Unreached. Click here to get information. Don’t be left out! Be a church, be a family, be an individual who prays specifically for the unreached. Not any of these “Lord, take this offering and use it to bless the world” type of prayers. Name the specific groups that need Jesus. Plead for their place in heaven.
2. Think Reflectively. God wants His people to think. Yes, He is honored by it. Look at your finances and see where you give. Look at your church’s giving. We have a book in our office and in our home called Operation World. Whenever we consider giving or working in a certain area we look up that nation in the book. We check out the percentage of Christians in a nation. We look at its history. If the Christian percentage is high, we generally don’t focus there. Why? Because many others are already working well there, and we want to think about moving faithfully to the finish line.
Not long ago, we asked a certain church about their mission strategy. It came across as rather nebulous. While good-hearted and trusting of God, their mission focus did not inspire the members. Knowing some of what God can do, we saw that this church had such potential to really come alive and inspire their people and help many others. God absolutely blesses our frail efforts if we work in coordination with Him. But God also wants to lead our efforts. Through prayer, biblical study, and research of where the Gospel has already moved (and where it has not yet moved), God can more easily lead our efforts to join Him in His heart for all ethnic groups.
Pick up a copy of Operation World to help you pray well, think well, and decide well. Ask God to guide your thinking, so that He can lead your actions.
3. Act Strategically. Have you heard the prayer at offering time in church, “Lord, take this offering and use it to bless the world.” You know what? God loves the Waneci of Pakistan. But probably God is not going to transfer the dollars directly from your offering and move it to help the Waneci. He expects you and your group to pray and think and then move to direct your monies to ministries working with the Waneci (or whatever group still needs Jesus).
Did you know?…
40% of the Church’s entire foreign mission resources are being deployed to 10 countries already possessing strong citizen-run home ministries.
(World Christians Trends, page 34)
So what does “acting strategically” mean? So much! Reach out to internationals nearby you. Invite to lunch a co-worker from another nation and ask about their family and background. Host an exchange student. Direct your finances with wisdom. Help in ways that do not hinder the local indigenous church. Watch news with a heart of prayer – and pray, don’t just consume!
Reaching the last remaining people groups will require you to move your prayers, your action, your teams, and your monies toward the unreached. Prayer, thinking, and action – we as God’s people need to re-focus so that we might impact the world both locally and globally. Run with abandon towards the clear finish line. You will never regret it!
If you want to learn more about how to expand your understanding, live with passionate urgency, and act strategically, then check out Engaged in Love and War.