Needing One Another
Recently while on an Engage ministry trip in Asia, I reflected on the value of the relationship between our local congregation in Winnipeg and the church in the 10/40 window. The church in Asia knows the reality of the persecution we read about in the book of Acts. I could not help but think about the book of Revelation, written to a church experiencing persecution for their faith in Christ. The book of Revelation speaks about the beast that attacks the church physically, speaking to the reality of the persecution that followers of Jesus will face. But then Revelation also addresses the issue of the prostitute, those things that dazzle our eyes and become more attractive than Jesus himself, pulling us away from the Biblical gospel in our desire to live peacefully in a culture which opposes Jesus.
Along with this is 1st Thessalonians, where Paul is writing to a persecuted church, fearful they may turn from the truth of God’s Word (3:5). As a result, he longs to visit and encourage them to remain faithful to the gospel. Here in Canada, as believers, we are coming under increased pressure to bow down to the current idols of our day, facing opposition if we don’t. Perhaps not the physical persecution found in the 10/40 window, but the reality that our workplaces, community clubs, and neighbourhoods are becoming increasingly hostile to the Biblical gospel we proclaim.
How does this tie into Engage Today and our relationship with the church in the 10/40 window? Our brothers and sisters in Asia have much to teach us regarding understanding the reality of being exiles in the land in which we live. They know the gospel makes them exiles in this world, while we in the West have too often sought to live in harmony with a world that hated Jesus (thinking the world would love our message), and as a result have compromised the Biblical gospel.
Paul sought to visit the church in Thessalonica to encourage them to stand firm in their faith and strengthen them in the Word of God. This was to encourage them as exiles here on earth. Visiting the church in the 10/40 window allows us to build up our brothers and sisters in the Word of God. And while doing so, seeing the wonderful gift of hospitality – a gift that Scripture calls us to again and again as our brothers and sisters so kindly and warmly welcome us.
And while we can encourage the believers in Asia with the wealth of teaching we’ve received in God’s Word, I believe our brothers and sisters have much to inspire us with. That is to stand firm in the gospel, in spite of what it may cost us in our jobs and relationships. Hearing from the church being attacked by the beast encourages us, who are often dazzled by the prostitute, thinking that a lack of opposition means we’re being faithful. Actually, it might mean we’re not preaching a Biblical gospel, and the church in the 10/40 window reminds us repeatedly of the Biblical truth that church growth is usually accompanied by persecution. This is such a blessing and encouragement to the church here in Canada.
So, do we need each other? Yes, absolutely! As brothers and sisters in the global family of God, may we have the longing that Paul had for the churches he had planted, seeing them as his hope, joy and crown of boasting in the gospel, his glory and joy.