While not as easy to be personally involved, it is still possible in certain circumstances.
The Church is incredibly valuable. The price that was paid for it is the greatest price that could have ever been paid by anyone, anywhere. In fact, no greater price could even be conceived of in the mind of mortal man. The life of the Second Person of the Trinity was paid for the Church. Furthermore, the Church is valuable because it is God’s chosen vehicle for delivering the message of His immeasurable mercy and grace and love to a world in desperate need of it. The Church is tasked with proclaiming the good news about forgiveness of sins found in Jesus the Messiah.
After the resurrection, as Jesus prepared to return to the Father, He told His disciples, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” (Matthew 28:19-20, Acts 1:8 NASU) Jesus, who founded the church by purchasing it with His own life and serves as the Head of the Church, has designated the Church as the living organism that He will use to accomplish the spread of His kingdom.
Every local church, being part of the worldwide Church, is commanded to be actively engaged in sharing the good news of repentance, faith, and salvation in the name of Jesus. Every local church should be busy about teaching all that Jesus commanded. Of course, the empowering of the Holy Spirit is necessary if any success to be had. Every local church exists in an immediate community (Jerusalem). There is a myriad of opportunities to be witnesses for Christ in the area in close proximity of the church. The church member can be actively and personally involved in this ministry. There are many opportunities in a somewhat larger area perhaps your state or section of your state (Judea). While not as easy to be personally involved, it is still possible in certain circumstances.
Every local church is also part of an even larger context. Perhaps this might be the nation (Samaria). Being a witness for Christ in this even larger geographic area will be increasingly more difficult except for special occasions and short-term events. However, it is still possible. Every local church is also a part of the whole world (remotest part of the earth). This area will be the most difficult to be involved in on a personal level. Once again, it can be done in certain, short-term efforts. The local church can and should be involved in indirect witnessing through funding the efforts of select individuals that God has called out to be in full-time service to Him whether it be in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, or the remotest part of the world. In this way, each local church can be obedient to Christ’s command to be His witnesses in each of those places. Some churches (including mine) do that in a cooperative fashion through their denomination. Other churches choose to support individual missionaries in various parts of the world. Either option is a good way to obey Christ when personal involvement is not possible.
Every local church that names the name of Christ, should be involved in each of these four areas of witnessing for Christ. If your church is obeying Christ in this area, praise the Lord! If your church is not, it begs the question of why not. I expect that we will be called to give account to the Lord of what we did in this area. Spending of all of God’s money in your hands on the comforts of the local church will not be found acceptable.
Pastor Steve Ellison is the director of the Ouachita Theological Training Institute in Mena, Ark.