(Culture, Tradition and Nationalism)
From the very resurrection of Jesus after His crucifixion on the cross, the message of Jesus and His followers has been to go into ‘all the world and preach the gospel to every person’. His call was to ‘make disciples of all nations teaching them all the things He had commanded’. These early followers became the ‘church’ and the message of Jesus went forth to the world as they were empowered and filled with the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
The thrilling message of Jesus spread from the early Jewish followers to all the world carrying out the command and will of Jesus. People in nation after nation and ethnic group after group heard the message of Jesus and believed and started following Him.
For about three hundred years these followers of Jesus met, studied and prayed and worshiped together. They met in homes and caves and fields. They had no buildings. Their ‘church’ was wherever they met together. They were hunted and killed and imprisoned but fearlessly they gloried in the cross and preached Jesus everywhere.
This was the pattern until the year 324 A.D. Constantine became the ruler of the entire Roman Empire. For the first time a Christian emperor had ascended the throne. Now ‘Christianity’ became official. The first churches were built in Jerusalem and in many of the places where Jesus had lived or ministered. Church buildings began to be built all throughout the Roman Empire.
Now there was a structure to meet in. Funds were needed to construct buildings. Now there was property to defend against enemies. Church structure became very organized. Much of the church at this point now became very Roman and took on much of that culture.
However, all over the known world the church found identity with the local people and different patterns developed like in Egypt with the Coptic church and in much of the world as the Orthodox Church. The early church began in India in 52 A.D. when St. Thomas (one of the 12 apostles) arrived to preach the gospel. This was long before most of Europe ever heard the message of Jesus.
From all across North Africa in Libya and Tunisia to Egypt to Ethiopia and across Arabia to present day Iraq and Iran and India and on to Armenia and present day Turkey and through Greece and the Baltic nations and across Italy and on to Spain the message of Jesus went with millions being converted and churches began. For hundreds of glorious years the witness spread in power and glory. Most of the people from Western and Northern Europe had not yet had the good news of Jesus preached to them.
I am only giving a brief glimpse of the history of the church and evangelism. I just want to emphasize that there was a world outreach for Jesus that was not based in the West or America. Remember the message of Jesus had gone out to the world for over 1,500 years ‘before’ the Reformation in Europe. Shortly before the Reformation the age of Exploration began in the mid-1400’s with Europeans going out to colonize the world. With them went the Catholic missionaries and later the Protestant missionaries depending on which nation reached the place first.
Now the culture of Europe became intertwined with the church and evangelism. Church buildings began to look like those in Europe and the same songs and musical instruments were played in the colony as were used in the parent country.
Now I am not saying all of this is bad but I am just coming to a profound point in a few moments.
One of the last major areas to be reached was the Americas. The message of Jesus found fertile soil in the heart of the settlers and the peoples of these two vast continents. It was only in the late 1700’s that missionaries and evangelists began to go out to the world ‘from’ the U.S. Most of the world had already been colonized before the U.S. witnesses went forth to preach Jesus. During the 1800’s many more went out preaching and teaching. But the major thrust of missions from the U.S was in the 20th Century.
In this present day there is much preaching and teaching going out from the U.S. via preachers, evangelists, teachers, television, radio and publishing and personal witnessing. This is thrilling and much needed.
However, one must not ignore all the tens of thousands of preachers, missionaries, teachers and gospel media that goes out from many nations around the world. As I have carried the cross in every nation I know first hand the work of the witness of Jesus from Asia, Europe, Africa, South America and the Pacific and from Asia, etc.
The message of Jesus is going forth from ‘all the world to all the world’.
Now here is my point!
Jesus is for All the World!
The message of Jesus is ‘Not’ an American gospel. It is ‘Not’ American culture. It is not a Western gospel! It is not a European message.
Jesus is no more identified with the U.S.A. than with Pakistan or Egypt or Japan or Fiji!
Jesus is for every nation and every ethnic group. No matter what language you speak or whatever color you are, Jesus loves you.
Every person and every nation is important to Jesus. Jesus is with you in India just as much as He will be with you in London. From Antarctica to Siberia you are equally important to Jesus. God knows you and loves you. Jesus died on the cross for your sins. Oh, come to Him now.
Do not confuse Jesus with America. Do not confuse Jesus with Western Europe. Many today in the world are trying to mix the political and economic issues with Jesus. Often people disagree with an issue and therefore presume that Jesus is against them. The difference between Jesus and political and even foreign policy is made to blur. Religion is being wrapped around politics, national policies and flags and this causes millions to reject the message of Jesus.
The world needs to see Jesus!
Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
(John 14:6 in the Holy Bible)
So wherever in the world you are reading this you can come to Jesus and know Him as Savior and Lord and Know and Follow Jesus.
“Lord God, I need you. As best as I know how I open my life to Jesus. I believe you died on the cross for me and was resurrected on the third day and ascended unto the Father. I repent of my sins and ask Jesus into my heart and life. I want to follow Jesus. I welcome the Holy Spirit in my life and give my life to God. Write my name in Your Book of Life in heaven. I am not ashamed of Jesus! Thank for You for saving my soul and making my home in heaven. In Jesus Name I pray’.
Those of you who made this commitment to Jesus my get further help from my ‘following Jesus’ link.
God willing I will speak more on the subject next week.
I want to be a simple, pure and undiluted follower of Jesus.
Just give me JESUS!
Pilgrim followers of Jesus,
Arthur and Denise Blessitt