by Gordon Parrish
As we look at the history of this New Testament church from its inception to this present day, we must conclude that the church is experiencing its greatest hour. Many places in our world are experiencing unprecedented revival. Today in America we have larger churches than ever. For those willing to cross self-imposed cultural barriers, “the fields are white and ready to harvest.”
As of March 8, 2015, the United States continues to be the third most populous country in the world with a census of 320.5 million people. His- panic or Latino, African-American, and Asian populations make up approximately 37 percent of this total number. When we add other ethnicities represented within our borders, we can easily say that at least 40 percent of America could be called multicultural. Our largest churches throughout Canada and the United States are the churches that have capitalized on the opportunity of reaching the lost regardless of race or ethnicity. For instance, Pastor Paul Graham of Montreal, Quebec, Canada, has experienced as many as seventy-five or more nations represented in a single service with a consistent representation of sixty-two nations for every service. This equates to a healthy church that preaches the whole gospel to the whole world by the whole church.
Social segregation is a natural phenomenon that occurs among all people. We tend to be more comfortable with those that are like ourselves; consequently, we all tend to move away from those that are different or of a different ethnicity. If we fail to make the effort to move across this self-imposed demarcation line, we fall short of fulfilling the Great Commission that was given to us in Matthew 28, thus eliminating approximately 40 percent of our outreach potential.
Many have found that to reach beyond their own ethnicity is to open the door to a more successful ministry of evangelism. Almost always, people of other groups are open to the friendliness of those who approach them, thus creating a great opportunity for outreach. Those who come from other places are usually not so locked into tradition but are more open to new things and are often interested in the lifestyles, customs, perspectives, and even the faiths of others. This also creates the perfect evangelism opportunities for us as Christians. It has been said, “We are strong in apostolic doctrine, but weak in apostolic mission.” We as the people with a command to reach the lost cannot forget our purpose. We must move forward with our God-given vision by reaching out to everyone that comes our way.
Revelation 3: 14-18 describes the faults and misguided values of the Laodicean church. They felt they were wealthy because they had accumulated many possessions and had every material comfort. Their comfort led to complacency. Their complacency caused them to forget their purpose, mission, and vision. They were deceiving themselves by thinking that their blessings-nice homes and church building, pretty furniture, enough money to pay the bills and more-were a sign of God’s approval on who they were and what they had. They thought all was well. But the Lord said, “Without purpose and without vision, you are lukewarm.” And we all know the reaction God has to lukewarm Christians: they are spewed out.
Visually, the church has changed much in the last fifty years: nicer buildings, greater talent, more affluent lifestyles, better educations, and thus more acceptable, or so we think. But like the Laodecian church we become unacceptable to the Lord if we let our purpose fall away. It is important to maintain apostolic doctrine, and it is equally important that we are strong on apostolic mission.
“Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? be- hold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (John 4:35)