Lent Day 12 Reflection
The gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world
as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
– Matthew 24:14 –
I can’t help but think how fitting this verse is when referring to reaching Asia and the Pacific with the Good News of Jesus Christ.
As a US citizen living in Sydney, Australia, it’s easy for me to comprehend the concept of reaching the “whole world.” The airline flights between Sydney and Dallas are some of the longest in the whole world, and the unique and stunning environment of Australia is one of the most beautiful settings, despite feeling like it’s a whole world away.
Although foreign to the preconceived notions of many Americans, the Church is alive and well in Australia, albeit in a different form than what you might experience in the States. A stroll through the suburbs of Sydney provides evidence to the contrast of religious culture and variety of faith communities; you won’t find a church building every 10 minutes along a stretch of one road, and you won’t find anything resembling a “Bible Belt” like the American South. Fifteen minutes north of my apartment is the historic St Mary’s Cathedral, which was home to Sydney’s first bishop in 1835. Fifteen minutes south of my apartment is one of the modern, city campuses for Hillsong Church, which has global influence in worship music and leading people to Christ. Different venues, different forms for different experiences, unfamiliar to me at first, but united in function to worship God and make disciples.
From my Southern Baptist Sunday School days, I remember being taught to “go and make disciples of all the nations” and being commissioned to the “ends of the Earth.” I guess you can say I took things literally as a child and teenager, eager to have a bag packed and passport prepared for the next destination on the disciple-making map. The Kingdom—and therefore, living on mission—was always a distant, foreign adventure, a whole world away.
During this Lenten season, I’ve refocused my attention to the simplicity of the Gospel and the honor I have of seeking the “gospel of the Kingdom” right where I am today. When Jesus taught the disciples to pray for God’s kingdom to come, God’s will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven, Jesus was commissioning me, too.
“His Kingdom come” is in my apartment building.
“His Kingdom come” is through my front door.
“His Kingdom come” is on my commute.
“His Kingdom come” is in my client interactions as a Social Worker.
Because of the rich diversity in the population, relational evangelism is an everyday opportunity in Australia and the Pacific region. According to statistics, more than 25% of all Aussies were born in another country, with British and Asian cultures having the most significant influences on the Aussie lifestyle. The melting pot that is Sydney, Australia, is home to Chinese groceries, Greek festivals, Thai restaurants around the Opera House, and the most beautiful harbor in the world.
It just so happens that my current context is Sydney, Australia, but couldn’t I ask this question at the next place I call home?
Couldn’t you ask the question, too, about your own mission-mindset towards the diversity of your own community?
Am I taking advantage of this God-given opportunity to reach the nations?
Eternally, one’s passport identification does not matter, but what counts is the decision to follow Christ today.
May you be challenged to seek the gospel of the Kingdom in your everyday life through acts of love, intentional conversations, never-ending grace, invitations to Church and relationships with Christ, opportunities of fellowship, and sharing the Gospel in word and deed to all people.
Take time to pray for believers to show courageous faith and proclaim the Good News. Pray for persecuted believers to remain faithful. The end (and Christ’s return) draws nearer with every faithful witness.
I’m biased, but I have the best sister in the whole world.
Heather Vines and her husband, Eliott, have been living in Sydney
since May 2011. Heather earned her Masters of Social Work from
Baylor University, and like a good sister, she stalks all things Harris Creek
on a regular basis and is familiar with our stated mission to “seek the welfare.”
In addition to Heather and Eliott’s transition back to the States in the fall,
I ask you to please pray for Eliott’s stepfather, Butch Patch,
who is currently undergoing treatments for cancer.