Events closer to home get our attention more. The hundreds of thousands of deaths and millions of refugees in Darfur impact us little, but let the cable channel service or Internet provider go offline for a while, and we’re irate.
This interest in the near shows up in the number of hits on the various news articles. As most of our readers are, up to now, Americans, the news about individuals and churches in the United States gets the most visits.
This natural tendency needs to be resisted, in order that a godly perspective may reign.
We need spiritual bifocals. By that, I mean interest not only in what is near, but in the workings of the kingdom outside our nearsighted circle.
Some years ago evangelical missiologists coined the phrase, “world Christian,” meaning by that a Christian who has a world vision, whose mission is as wide as God’s.
Some of our brethren tried it out and recommended its use, but it didn’t seem to go far, perhaps because of its origin, more probably because of our blinders approach to faith.
The phrase is actually a redundancy. The New Testament Christian goes “into all the world,” Mark 16:15.
The saint cries with the Psalmist, “Let the whole earth fear the Lord! Let all who live in the world stand in awe of him!” Psalm 33:8.
Jesus assumed that “the gospel [would be] proclaimed in the whole world,” Matthew 26:13.
John reminds us that Jesus “himself is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for our sins but also for the whole world,” 1 John 2:2.
The global vision of God permeates the Bible, not being limited to a single command of the Great Commission.
Missions experts have made much, and rightly so, that Jesus’ command to “make disciples of all nations,” Matthew 28:20, means not only getting inside the borders of every country, but touching every people group.
But we’re reading more about what’s closest to home.
The world has shrunk, but we seem not to have taken note of it. For God, however, the world was always small. Always near. Always needy.
“Far and near the fields are teeming.” Now, more than ever.