“Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.”
Two thousand years ago the Christian movement began among the poor and marginalized of Palestine and spread throughout the middle east. Today, there are so few Christians left in that part of the world they hardly make a difference. The photo above was taken near Ephesus. It shows the ruins of what was one of the greatest churches in that part of the world, the Basilica of St. John, site of the great ecumenical council of Ephesus.
Western Europe and the United States are the principle inheritors of Christian civilization – or what is left of it. Christendom is largely a thing of the past. Gone are the days when villages and towns were dominated by the presence of Christian churches, and, more importantly, when the Christian story gave shape to all aspects of life. Today, Western secular societies are a salad bar of religions, cultures and ideologies which pose a direct challenge to the Christian faith. For millions, worth is measured by one’s capacity for acquisition and consumption of things; the pagan eroticism of the pop\entertainment culture has cheapened much of our common life; an aggressive scientism is attempting to strip life of any meaning beyond the rational, the technical and measurable.
Every generation is a time of challenge and decision for the Christian faith, and that means for local congregations and people who confess Jesus as Lord of all. Our time is no exception. The Christian faith is always one generation away from extinction. Ruined church buildings are a reminder that we have no right to the kingdom. It is God’s gift to us. So, we pray that His kingdom might prosper among us and that the fruit of that Kingdom may issue forth in a joyful, daring witness to the salvation that is in Jesus Christ and in deliberate, sacrificial love for the neighbor.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our lord.”