Monday, December 08, 2008

Declare his glory among the nations

IMG_1938Many modern praise songs today echo the words of the prophets and the psalmists in expressing their commitment to declare God's glory to the nations.  Just a thought....

Is singing songs about declaring God's glory among the nations the same as actually doing it?  Surely, the admonition to declare His name among the nations means more than just singing songs .  God's people possess a knowledge others do not have.  It is their responsibility to share this knowledge with others, even to those at the ends of the earth (outside of Israel). For the church, the meaning is clear.  Boldly and enthusiastically declaring God's goodness and glory in the safety of our worship services is not declaring them to the nations. 

I write this as I have been reading recent articles of how only a small percentage of donations given to churches actually are used to reach "the nations."  Christianity Today notes that in the U.S., only about 3 percent of money donated to churches and ministries went to aiding or ministering to non-Christians.  I suspect that things aren't much different here in Canada.  I also suspect that many Christians bypass their church entirely and give directly to charities (like The Voice of the Martyrs) that engage in international work, but I have always been saddened by that.

So, the next time you sing a song about declaring God's glory and reign to the nations, pause and ask yourself just how you are involved in making sure that this is actually happening.

Psalm 96:1-3 (ESV) 
    Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
        sing to the Lord, all the earth! 
    Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
         tell of his salvation from day to day. 
    Declare his glory among the nations,
        his marvelous works among all the peoples!


Matthew said...

This has always bothered me, too. It hit harder when I learned more statistics:

(sorry this is cut-and-paste from my blog)

"Of the 2.3 billion Christians, roughly 700 million (31% of all Christians) are considered "Great Commission Christians," meaning that they have some commitment to evangelism, discipleship, church-planting, etc. About 12 million (0.5%) are Professional Christian Workers (engaged full-time in ministry), about 6.7 million (0.3%) are missionaries, about 1.2 million (0.05%) are missionaries that go to a culture different from their own, about 460,000 (0.02%) are foreign missionaries, about 98,250 (0.004%) are missionaries specifically to non-Christians, and lastly 13,450 (0.0006%) are missionaries to an unreached people group-- a people group where there is currently no church-planting movement at all. Just 13,450 frontier missionaries.

"That's a lot of numbers, but to summarize quickly: Most missionaries go to the 2.3 billion Christians in the world, and 0.0006% of missionaries go to the 1.8 billion people who have never heard of Jesus. As far as giving goes, 1 cent out of every $100 given by Christians goes to frontier missions.

My particular "thing" is frontier missions, but overall giving is also low (somewhere between 5% and 15% of evangelicals actually tithe), and of that giving, not a lot is spent on ministry and missions. Of that which is spent on ministry & missions, little of it goes to reaching non-Christians.

Michelle said...

This is a great post....!

Anonymous said...

When I bring information about the persecuted chruch to the attention of older christians, they are shocked yet not interested in helping. I try not to judge them cause God calls us to different ministries but going on a "run-a-thon for cancer" is not a christian ministry. The church in the US live like pagans, think like pagans, and use the pagan view of the world to evaluate our own views.
"IF we were on trial for being a christian, would there be enough evidence to convict us?"
In the US, proably not.

Glenn Penner said...

There is a marked gap for many between knowing of a problem and believing that they actually have to do anything about it. Sadly, many folks often have to be impacted by something directly to crack open their wallets. Take for example your illustration. As someone fighting cancer, I rather appreciate Christians engaging in a run-a-thon for cancer, as some of my family did a few months ago on my behalf. In the same way, I don't think we really see persecution as striking anyone close to us and so we can safely ignore it or wring our hands and say "Oh, how sad." But then walk away without feeling any further obligation. We rally have little sense of Christian solidarity beyond the walls of the church. Is it still true that when one of us suffers, we all suffer (1 Cor. 12:26)?