“… besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches.”The Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 11:28
I have a deep concern – a burden. At least that’s how I believe God wants me to think about it. It is a burden for “all the churches,” the Christ-followers in those churches and completing the task our Lord has given us to finish.
The “deep concern” Paul felt came from the Greek word μέριμνα. It means “a worry, care, anxiety that separates from the whole.” It’s a burden that is so deep it actually feels like something is tearing you apart inside. Do you feel that about the church, about fellow Christians, about the lost in the world?
Our burden as Christians should be the same burden that brought Jesus from Heaven to earth.
“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”Jesus Christ, Mark 1:15
Read the Gospels and you will see that Jesus, the eternal Son of God, was extremely focused during His time on earth. He had one goal – and it wasn’t to make everybody like Him or feel good about themselves.
Jesus shared His burden with the people of His own village synagogue and they wanted to kill Him for what He said –
“So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”Luke 4:16-19
Jesus closed the book, gave it back to the synagogue attendant and sat down. Remember that this is the synagogue Jesus had attended from childhood. Everybody was watching him. Here’s what He said next –
“Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Whoa! The prophecy of Isaiah was fulfilled in the hearing of the people sitting in that synagogue?
What Isaiah wrote in Chapter 61 of his Book was in the context of what God told Him in chapters 59 and 60 –
“The Redeemer will come to Zion, And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob.”Isaiah 59:20
“Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, And deep darkness the people; But the Lord will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising.”Isaiah 60:1-3
Isaiah 59, 60 and 61 were continuations of the earlier context of the suffering Messiah –
“He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”Isaiah 53:3-6
Jesus was claiming to be the prophesied Redeemer of Israel! The promised Messiah!
The people marveled at what He said, then asked each other, “Is this not Joseph’s son?” Because of the burden Jesus had for the people and His intense focus on doing the will of His Heavenly Father, He did not back down an inch from His claim to Isaiah’s prophecy concerning Him and the people’s desperate need for forgiveness of sins –
“He said to them, ‘You will surely say this proverb to Me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Whatever we have heard done inCapernaum, do also here in Your country.’ Then He said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.’ So all those in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, and rose up and thrust Him out of the city; and they led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw Him down over the cliff. Then passing through the midst of them, He went His way.”Luke 4
We need to have that same burden for people, that same focus to do the will of our Heavenly Father. That burden is reaching lost people with the Gospel of Christ and making disciples. Not just in our city, state (province) or country. It’s reaching lost people in “all the world.”
“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”Matthew 14:24
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the only hope people have for eternal life. They, just like us, can’t earn it and certainly don’t deserve it. Salvation is a gift, but it comes with a burden. That burden brought the Son of God from Heaven to earth to become the payment for our sins. That burden sent Christ’s disciples to the world in the 1st century and they are still going two thousand years later.
The 10/40 Window
There are so many people and people groups who have not heard the Gospel. The truth about how many people have never heard is staggering. Please click on the links below to learn more about the burden.
The sad fact is that many Christians in relatively wealthy parts of the world (e.g. United States, Canada, UK, Europe) give very little thought, concern, time or money toward reaching the lost in relatively poor parts of the world (e.g. 10/40 Window). Is it because they don’t have a burden for the lost? Why would Christians who understand the task Jesus Christ has given His Church not feel the burden to finish the task?
More than half of the world’s population lives in that 10/40 Window. The vast majority of the people living in that area of the world (approximately 90%) have not heard the life-saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism are the predominant religions in the 10/40 Window. Atheistic Communism is also a huge obstacle in that region of the world. Preaching the Gospel there truly is an unfinished task for Christians.
The burden all Christians should feel and carry, I believe, is that we face an unfinished task. Jesus told us to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19) and be witnesses of Him “to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Jesus did His part, but we are not doing ours. We have not finished our work. How will we know when our work is done? As Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 24 – “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” That’s when we’ll know.
There are many native-born pastors and evangelists preaching the Gospel of Christ in the 10/40 Window, but they need our help.
What Can I Do?
First — Care. Pray. Give.
Second — ask God to give you a burden for a particular part of the world.
Third — use your spiritual gifts to support pastors and evangelists in the area of the world God burdens you.
Fourth — invite other Christians in your circle of influence to become involved in reaching the unreached with the spiritual freedom God gives us in His Son.
You can also direct your family and friends to read and share articles in FaithandSelfDefense.com as well as other online ministries. We recently started a new series entitled There’s Work To Be Done that addresses the unfinished task before us.
Our prayers are with you as you follow Christ and share the burden His will.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.