I seem to write these articles when I’m on the road mostly, I’m now in Atlanta with Greg and Michelle Haswell and then off to our Church in Dallas next week.
I suppose my personal story of having sung three national anthems with the zeal of a local, in Denmark first, then Zambia and now for the last thirty-five years in South Africa, has shaped my view of the Nations. It’s taught me some vital lessons about the work of God and here are some of my thoughts to hopefully help you.
Lesson 1: God loves all nations
The scriptures say that the nations are our inheritance (Psalm 2:8). I have observed and have friends updating me that God is working in every nation and culture. No nation or culture seems to be his favourite. It is only us, with our cultural glasses that seem to think God would favour one nation over another.
Lesson 2: All people are beautiful
Having been blessed to see and connect with people from all around the world – I have a highly developed sense of what is beautiful. There is a genius of God in every culture and a beauty to be unveiled in every person. If you fail to see it, you may mistakenly think one culture is sub-standard to another and land up placing different values on people. This is my most valuable lesson from the nations…. all people have equal value no matter what their race, education, wealth or external beauty. How blessed we are that God has added so much colour and diversity into our Cities. My friendships with Nigerians, Congolese, and Zimbabweans, just from the nations of Africa have so enriched my life; I think I see God differently because of it.
Lesson 3: I could live anywhere
This is not an altogether true statement, but the point I’m trying to make is that I could live anywhere God calls me. Many people feel a little trapped in the cultural context they are in. When they begin to talk of wanting to go to a new nation or make changes, they do so partly apologetically because they are made to feel that they are betraying the place they are leaving. God is no more in Durban than He is in Leicester or Dallas… He is present everywhere. You could live anywhere and be in His ‘sweet spot’.
Lesson 4: Patriotism is a choice
I have often made the statement that you ought to love the space you are in and conversely if you don’t love the space you will find it very difficult to reach and influence it with the Gospel. You can only reach what you love. Because Christians have an altered worldview in the new birth, it gives us the capacity to look past some of the deficiencies of where we live and identify the beauty in the midst of struggle. “He makes all things beautiful in His time”. The multicultural cities we live in are massive doors to the Gospel, and as people travel home to visit family, they take the Gospel with them and so it reaches the ends of the Earth. Let’s not miss these amazing opportunities right under our noses; let the kindness of God speak through your life.
We support our local sports teams not because they are good but because we are ‘local’ and ‘love local’ and so we will be able to reach ‘local.’ Please change your mind, and the Holy Spirit may surprise you with multiple opportunities of reaching people to whom the door was previously closed.
God has much in store for you and for us as the CityHill Together Family; so don’t shrink your world to just you and your family. Look up and look around… the Nations are a gift to you, an inheritance, receive them!!!
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