Sunglasses are a very useful invention. Dark colored lenses help dim the brightness of the sunlight and are especially useful for driving. Something interesting happens when we wear sunglasses — the whole world seems to acquire similar tones based on the color of lens we're wearing.
As followers of Jesus, we are challenged to see the world through a biblical lens. Different passages give us different perspectives of the world. Through the lens of Matthew 25:31-46, people around us, especially those who Jesus calls “the least of these,” begin to look like Christ Himself. Through the lens of Matthew 9:36, people become “sheep without a shepherd.”
ACTS 1:8 LENS
Just before ascending into Heaven, Jesus said the following words to His closest disciples,
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)
One of the unique characteristics of the Church is its outward focus. William Temple stated that,
The Church is the only organization that doesn’t exist for itself, but for those who live outside of it.
What if we were to combine these two ideas and look at “those outside” through the lens of Acts 1:8? What if we saw every person outside of the Church as part of Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, or the ends of the earth?
- JERUSALEM. Those closest to us geographically, the people of our village or neighborhood. Culturally speaking, this could be people of my culture.
- JUDEA. Those a little farther away, perhaps my state or province. Culturally speaking, those who speak my language but have a different cultural background.
- SAMARIA. For a Jew, those who were rejected and avoided. Perhaps a people group in our own society that thinks and acts very differently. Those marginalized or rejected by society.
- ENDS OF THE EARTH. Geographically, those in the entire world. Culturally speaking, this would include those cultures and religions different from our own.
If this is how Jesus wants us (the Church) to look at the world outside of our limits, here are four strategic questions that you and I must ask in our Christian witness:
- Where are my Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth?
- Who are the people I am called to witness to in my Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of earth?
- What strategies and methods am I going to use to reach these different groups of people?
- Who is already involved in witnessing, with whom should I develop strategic partnerships to engage people in each of these places?
Two thousand years later, Jesus’ last words before ascending into heaven continue to be our rally call to engage with the world outside the walls of our churches.