Reaching Out to the World
by Paul Hazelden


[This was originally given to the Elders in preparation for the Prayer Day at Westborough on 6 November 1993. Some of the examples given are a little dated now, but the issues are as relevant as ever.]

Churches and Christians can so easily become introverted and concerned only with 'spiritual' matters, but the God we worship loves the world. This is plea for our Church life to reflect the wholeness we see in the nature and character of the God we claim to serve.

Introduction

God is calling the church to wholeness. We are the Body of Christ, and we are called to reveal Jesus to the world. We are called to reveal all of Him, not just the bits we are familiar and comfortable with. To do this, we must strengthen both our life together and also the part of our life which reaches out into the community.

Our Life Together

Our life together is essentially about learning to be a community of love. It includes all the things which are normally regarded as Church life: accepting and encouraging one another; discovering and developing gifts; working and playing together; challenging and teaching one another; worshipping and praying together.

Reaching Out

Reaching out is essentially about us being salt and light to the world where God has placed us. Evangelism is essential, but it is not supposed to be our only form of contact with the world!

Guildford matters to God. He calls us to play an active part in the wider community. There are so many needs, so many areas of service on our back door, so many groups who need Jesus to come to them. We have a responsibility to get involved in local politics: how else will we see justice established in the land? Political parties need Christians to develop and support godly policies. Support groups are terribly over stretched and need good volunteers: the Citizen's Advice, AA, the Samaritans and Phab, to name a few.

Our nation matters to God. British Rail and transport, Miners and Shipbuilders, the Prisons, the Police, education, access to the legal system for the not so wealthy: He is concerned about all these issues.

Caring for the sick is important to God. So we must see the Hospitals as His instruments, as are the groups which raise money for hospitals and the sick. The mentally ill are just as important to Him as the physically ill: He is concerned about the stresses and difficulties caused to both the mentally ill and the people who care for them through 'Care in the Community'.

Feeding the hungry is important to God. There are many hungry and homeless people in this country, and millions more across the world. We need to keep caring for people in Zimbabwe without forgetting the needs at home.

Widows and orphans matter to God. We have many war widows in this country - not just from the Second World War, but Korea, Northern Ireland, the Falklands, the Gulf and many more conflicts since then. He cares about the children growing up in institutions and 'homes' without real parental care and love.

Beauty matters to God: He created a beautiful world. So we must celebrate it in art, music, dance and poetry. The theatre is a celebration of life and a challenge to think about the way we live. God delights in our striving for excellence, in games and sports. All these areas of recreation need Christian involvement, so we can share the joy and satisfaction, and explain that without Jesus all the achievement in this world is ultimately hollow.

His creation matters to God. So we must care for the world He has placed in our hands. Environmental concerns must not be left to a few fanatics. Groups like Friends of the Earth must not be allowed to drift into New Age fantasies: they have an important place in God's plans.

Conclusion

No one person can be involved in all these areas, perhaps no one church. But our hearts must be willing to embrace all of God's desire and will: to bless, encourage and pray for the Christians who are willing to be involved in bringing the Kingdom of God to all these many parts and places. We can recognise we are one with those working in each of these areas and pray for them even if we are not called to actively support each cause.

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Copyright © 1999 Paul Hazelden
 
http://hazelden.org.uk/pt02/art_pt069_reaching_out_world.htm was last updated 17 August 2012
Page content last modified: 21 October 1999
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