This could easily turn into a book length post, or a series, but for now I want to keep it short and offer up some thoughts to help answer this question. I believe the global church has much to offer us as we walk through this divisive and contentious days. Here are 6.
- Holiness for revival in the midst of ungodliness – perhaps you look around and wonder how long the Lord will wait to judge the U.S. for our sins. Brothers and sisters living in Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist contexts understand that feeling. They cry out with us, “how long, Oh Lord,” and “will not the Lord of all the earth do right?!” One brother from Southeast Asia said to me, “Justin, Americans think that if person X or person Y is elected president, that God will judge your nation. What you don’t realize is that when these are the sort of people you have to choose between, that God has already judged your nation.” Let us grieve and lament before the Lord. The global church can teach us how.
- Healing to love and partner across race and ethnicity – Hutus and Tutsis are working together to heal blood soaked wounds in Rwanda, and the surrounding areas. Palestinian and Israeli Christians are working together, worshiping together, and loving one another well. The ethnic violence that we may see in the West today, while it shouldn’t be minimized, is nothing compared to what some countries have witnessed even in the last few years. The global church can help us love those who look, live, and vote differently than us.
- Hope in the midst of (real and potential) cultural and political opposition – Many American Christians are concerned that the direction our culture is going, and perhaps the direction of our government, that persecution of Christians will begin or increase. Our Chinese brothers and sisters suffering under a truly oppressive government, Nigerian brothers and sisters suffering at the hands of their Muslim neighbors, and Arab believers navigating a reality in which they seek to witness to Jesus despite all that it may cost them…they have so much to each us.
- Humility to admit our flaws and mistakes – We can stop describing the global Church, in any place, as a mile wide and an inch deep. If nothing else, recent events have exposed the Church in the U.S. – on both sides of our recent debates – as shockingly shallow in our conviction, character, and care. I’ve found so many of our African, Asia, and Latin American brothers and sisters to be humble, teachable, and hungry to grow, learn, and have more of Jesus. They are often quick to ask for help and counsel. We need a renewed spirit of humility and teachability in the American church.
- Hunger to proclaim the Gospel despite the current reality – look around the world and somewhere you will see famine, pestilence, sword, persecution, degradation, disease, hardship, and natural disaster. In all of those places, the church is proclaiming Christ. Across Africa, the Movement for African National Initiatives is a network partnering across denominations, cultures, languages, and ethnicities to reach the remaining unreached people groups on the continent. COMIBAM is doing the same in Latin America. Amazing partnerships in Asia trumpet, likewise, the need for the Gospel for all peoples. American Christians have so much to learn from this missional mindset despite the turmoil in their nations and, even, in their churches.
- Honestly about sin’s impact in our culture – the global church has helped us see that the Gospel is at home in every culture. It comes in, takes root, and transforms a people. And every culture it encounters then can express their faith in the Gospel in culture-specific ways, bringing unique gifts and glory to God that only they can. That’s what missiologists call the “indigenous principle” of the Gospel. But, there’s also the “pilgrim principle” of the Gospel which condemns sinful practices in every culture. It declares, all cultures are welcomed before the throne, but you are ultimately citizens of a new kingdom. The Gospel is at home in every culture, but also calls all cultures to bow the knee to King Jesus. EVERY CULTURE, TRIBE, RACE, PEOPLE, DIVISION OF HUMANITY. That is true of the American church, whatever culture or color.