WHAT IS GOD DOING AT OUR TIME?
Among the troops of the faithful men of David that helped establish his kingdom, there was a remarkable group of leaders from the tribe of Issachar. Their special strength was neither in their numbers nor in their skill to handle the sword but in the understanding of the times. They actually knew what the whole nation should do! (1 Chr 12:32).
There is a necessity to discern God’s particular season and time for our own generation, just like the men of Issachar did for their time. It is only then we can define a clear mission for our own city, nation and continent in the time that we live in.
Paul captured the unique and specific work of God for his generation and committed his life to preach the revolutionary gospel of the one “catholic” Church; the whole, complete church which is for everyone. The meaning of the word catholic in Greek is wholesome, all-embracing, universal and complete. The literal meaning of the word would be ‘in respect of everyone’, which was contrary to the original experience of the one elected people of the OT Scriptures.
Paul spoke this in respect to God’s salvation plan for both the Jews and the (converted) Gentiles. This was still a mystery for the early church and a struggle for those still holding on to old ways of doing things failing to grasp what God was doing then in their generation.
In this line, the persecution and scattering of the early church of Jerusalem turned out to be a unique opportunity to reach the Jews of the “diaspora” with the good news but also the Gentiles. Some of the persecuted Christians broke tradition and instead of continuing to do the ‘same thing’ as before, they started sharing the gospel with the Gentiles also. And the Bible says, ‘The Lord’s hand was with them” (Ac 11:19-21) and that is how the powerful, multicultural church of Antioch was birthed, marking church history and becoming the mother of Paul’s missionary activity. Remarkably, this was the place where the believers first were called "Christians".
Today, history is being written before our very eyes in Europe and in Belgium in particular, as thousands of people flood the nation due to war, crisis and all kind of circumstances in their own countries of origin, and of course due to the expansion of the EU. A foretaste of the multinational character of heaven is already visible as we walk through the streets of most big cities today. The question we need to answer for ourselves is if this is a mere result of political and social circumstances or if God is in control of the circumstances and has a plan for our own generation, which the Church ought to take very seriously.
Seasons and times are in God’s hand and serve the purposes of God for each generation. He uses socio-political circumstances to set in motion His particular plan in particular seasons. Just like we see in the Bible how God used the decree for census in Caesar Augustus' time, serving as the right context for the fulfillment of the Scripture in the Messiah’s birth at Bethlehem.
The new missionary opportunity only adds to the huge, unreached harvest field of Europe and Belgium. But at the same time, there is a unique phenomenon within the Body of Christ: cultures, nations and tongues from the whole world, gathering in one place, under one flag; Christ. And this is what Christ’s Church is meant to be in its complete and wholesome form.
God is bringing at the same time labourers from all over the world to strengthen and support one of the most stagnant spiritually places, in terms of church growth and revival; Europe.
But, when we look closely, we are confronted with a peculiar situation: an ‘apartheid’; a separation of local and foreign churches. And to some extent this segregation takes place between the different denominations as well. Our communities live parallel lives in the same city and country, without any real fellowship with each other. Each one busy ‘building’ our own work in our own way, without taking account of the time that we live in. We are hardy communicating, cooperating or connecting with each other and we are hardly accountable to one another.
We see immigrant communities often feeling pushed aside and misunderstood from the mainstream church, focusing on their own vision, their own people and their own programs. Indigent churches on the other side, overwhelmed by the amount of new nationalities, focus instead on their own way of doing things in order to preserve their culture, which they see as being threatened.
The Lord sees us as one church in our cities and our nation; one people with our different ‘families’ and ‘tribes’ expressing the multifaceted grace of God. The leaders of the tribe of Issachar focused on establishing David’s kingdom and understood what the whole kingdom should do instead of focusing on their own tribe... Isn’t it time that we shift from an individualistic, church-focused-mentality to a kingdom-focus-mentality?
Unto us is the opportunity given, to embrace the new season of God with its colourful and multicultural expression, right at 'home'. Seasons and specific grace are for a task and unto enablement to serve our generation effectively. They call for the understanding of what God is doing now or we will be found passed by His flow, only watching what God is doing by those who perceived it...
It is still God's will for His church to be for everyone, indigent and immigrant inclusive, none-discriminating, united, wholesome and not segregating.
Do we understand the times we are in and what God’s people in our nation should do?
by Eugenia Daskalopoulou-Tarlizou
Belgian Coalition for Israel
Seminar with Paul Harrison on 17-19 November.
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