Paul Davies

Mission in an uncertain world

The world seems to be in a period of unprecedented uncertainty. This Wednesday, the UK government triggered Article 50, beginning the process of the UK leaving the European Union, causing more uncertainty that we have experienced since the Second World War. There is a definite swing to the Right in many European governments, three of the most powerful nations on earth have very unpredictable Presidents: the USA, Russia and China. The refugee crisis and migrant issue continue and worsen. There is seemly unceasing war in Syria and Iraq. The famines of South Sudan and Northern Nigeria are caused by war but seem irresolvable. Yes, an uncertain period of history. 

When we look at such a scenario the temptation for the church and for individual Christians is despair. Despair, however, would betray a lack of faith in God. Paul in Ephesians 1 tells us:

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to son ship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment – to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.

This demonstrates to us God’s ultimate purpose for us as Christians, for the church and ultimately for the world. What is this purpose? Well, “to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ."

Due to the context I described above, God is not worrying that things have got out of control. God is still working his purposes out. He is not idle. This is, of course, a statement which comes from faith, not any sort of faith, but faith in the God of history. 

Many times during biblical history it must have seemed that God was not in control. Just consider the time of the Judges, the war between Assyria, Syria and Ephraim and most of all during the Exile in Babylon. However, the book of Daniel begins with an incredible statement of Faith,

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord delivered Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the articles from the temple of God. These he carried off to the temple of his god in Babylonia and put in the treasure-house of his god.

It was the Lord who delivered Jehoiakim into Nebuchadnezzar’s hand. Even in that period, God was still in control.

The same goes for the New Testament. Israel is occupied by one of the most vicious imperial regimes, Jesus is handed over to be executed on trumped up charges, but God is working his purposes out through these disasters. 

God will bring all things in heaven and on earth under the righteous rule of Christ. Our job in these times is to declare that God is still in control, he will fulfil his purpose and bring about his kingdom even in  uncertain times and sometimes even through those uncertainties.

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