Saturday night late I was flipping pages in my Bible and reread Paul's reasoning for taking the gospel to the Gentiles. His heart for the church at Rome. Paul was a Jew and there were plenty of Jews that needed Christ, but he expanded his ministry to preach to the Gentiles. God spoke to me pretty hard about the necessity of going to the nations. It was quite an uncomfortable several hours. I don't know that all of this will even make sense, but hopefully it will clear up some of the confusion I still feel.
Here's what I read: Rom. 1:16-32
"I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: The righteous will live by faith. The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
.......grab a Bible and finish up the chapter if you wish, it's a list of sins we as humans commit as we follow our own wisdom, which is truly foolishness.
Paul is saying in these verses that even though God revealed Himself in His creation, men still commit sin. They cannot find righteousness on their own. Righteousness can only be found in Christ. Paul is anxious to carry that message to the Gentiles so that they will be able to know the power of God for their salvation.
Now fast forward a few chapters to Romans 10:12-15
For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile - the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?.....
Does this make any of you cry? It does me. Every time I read it and every time I think about it. Are you catching this...... God's message brings salvation and power and beauty and an amazing relationship with Him.....But how can people believe if they have never heard? And how can they hear unless someone tells? And how can someone tell unless they go to where the people need to hear?
Currently something like 2 billion people worldwide have never heard the good news. How will they hear unless we go?
I was a long time falling asleep Saturday night as I prayed for the nations who have never heard of Jesus. Who will go? I tried hard to excuse myself of responsibility with God. I tried telling Him that I did not have funding for those types of mission opportunities and that I take advantage of opportunities as they present themselves. But in the darkness my eyes drifted around the room, and I saw all the stuff. Stuff that I have purchased to make my own life better and easier and more beautiful. I am not saying that I'm selling it all to move overseas and live with some tribe somewhere. But I am saying that I have squandered a great deal of money on unimportant stuff...... Stuff that has zero eternal value. "How can they hear unless they are told?" And how can I tell if I am not able to go?
God convicted me pretty hard on refocusing my life around things with eternal significance..... People...... I imagine that my shopping habits may be harder to break than I think. There are probably enough shoes in my closet to purchase a plane ticket to the other side of the globe. Is that in accordance with God's plan for the nations? That I own 20 or more pairs of shoes?
It's a hard one for me to balance out. I don't know that it is sin to spend money on myself, on my children, my husband, and my home. But I don't know if it's always the best choice either. I get one life. I think it could probably make a bigger difference if I could focus less on myself and what I want and more on others.
Pray that I would have clarity in decisions about all this. Pray that God would allow me and you to be a part of his amazing plan to reach all the nations with the good news of Jesus Christ, so that they might hear and believe! Pray that we can join God on the big adventure.