How will the Church respond—turning inward to maintain what ministries already exist, or turning outward to the whitened harvests of the world?
Back in the day when dinosaurs still walked the earth I played varsity football and baseball in high school. We were a small school with very limited resources (read that “speed” or “size”) so we ended up on the south end of the scoreboard in most competitions. Our coach had a million clichés that he used to try to either get us in the game or keep us there.
One of his favorites was, “Okay, guys, now it’s crunch time!” This generally meant that we were behind (again) and that we would stay that way unless we were ready to make sacrifices beyond the usual. We always knew it was going to cost us emotionally (from coach’s anger and outbursts) and physically (bruises, bumps and blood). None of us looked forward to what was ahead in those moments, but all of us knew our commitment to the sport was going to be tested.
Reading the paper today two articles caught my attention, one regarding our economy and the other a report on the recent killing of a Christian aid worker in Afghanistan. Since missions is not just a passion but a part of my DNA, I read both articles from a worldview perspective. This comes at a time when cynicism is a constant companion so I will try to keep that demon at bay. However, I could hear my coach in the background saying “It’s crunch time!”
Both these world issues strike at the essence of serving God by serving others, a sometimes definition for missions.
As one who loves to study human behavior, I view the days ahead with anticipation, waiting to see what will be the reaction of the people of God to the circumstances of our culture. What will be the reaction of the Church, the Body of Christ, to a tightening economy? How will our giving financially to the needs of our own country and the world be affected? What will this do to the number of followers of Christ who will choose to give not just their money but their lives to the needs of the world? How will the Church respond—turning inward to maintain what ministries already exist, or turning outward to the whitened harvests of the world?
It’s crunch time! Up until now most of us have been able to slide by on many areas, putting up great looking fronts to conceal inward lack. Living in a country of abundance, we have not had to make many sacrifices based on what we say we believe. That is changing rapidly, and it is clearly evident now that what we believe—which should always be reflected in how we live—will certainly be revealed in what we do in light of a faltering economy. Christians here and abroad have been viewed with skepticism for some time now, but we will be facing a bit more than embarrassment or ridicule. Just ask those already serving crunch time.
One of the leaders of the world missions movement said in recent years that, while we have been teaching our children and youth how to live for Christ for some years now, the time has come to teach them how to die for Him. Hard decisions are now a part of not only our future but our present. Will I give from my need for the needs of others? Can I trust the path of God that leads me to serve in other cultures of our world? Can Christ be trusted with my life or the life of my family and loved ones? No easy answers are available and what happens next is going to cost us. The Bible tells us we should all count the cost and now is the time. It truly is crunch time.