It wasn’t until I was 25 years old that I developed myopia. At least I think so. I remember being frustrated at the team that made the worship song projection slides so fuzzy that no one could read them! And then there was my brother’s skepticism of my not being able to read those street signs. Nearsightedness is a problem—especially if you don’t quite realize it.
One area of myopia that Christian parents, and increasingly teens, experience is that of global church myopia. When rightly emphasizing the centrality of the local church, it’s possible to overcorrect and de-emphasize what God is also up to around the globe.
The church started in what we now call Asia. The Middle East. Jerusalem. Jesus said it would spread concentrically from there, and it has.
The church is broader than the American church. We in the United States are a far-flung off-shoot of the “uttermost parts of the earth.” We are barely 400 years into gospel advance here. We’re just one part of the nations who would “glorify God for His mercy” (Rom. 15:9; cf. Mal. 1:11).
So, how can you and your family more comprehensively appreciate and involve yourselves in God’s global activity? How can you correct global church myopia?
1. Don’t put too much stock in this world.
Christ, in Matthew 6:21, gives us a proverb: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” He’s telling us why we ought to store up treasure in heaven and not on earth.
The more stuff I amass, the more attention it demands from me. Inordinate focus on earthly possessions will lead my heart away from the eternal and to the ephemeral.
Now Christ is not saying it’s wrong to provide for our family (1 Tim. 5:8), enjoy good things (Eccl. 2:24–25), or be like the ant (which works and plans for the future—Prov. 6.6–8). Instead, He goes on to make this point: how well you see affects how you live (Matt. 6:22-23).
If you’re seeing rightly, you’ll live rightly. If you’re seeing poorly, you’ll live poorly. And what could get in the way of your eyesight? The earthly and temporal. Don’t put too much stock in this world.
This is foundational to helping us out of our global church myopia.
2. Seek first God’s kingdom.
“But what if I hold these things in life too loosely because I’m pursuing God so much?” Chances are, that’s not going to be a problem. Sometimes, though, we do have to make conscious choices between what we want and what God wants.
- This decision might cost me relational capital with my boss.
- This decision might cost me something financially.
- This decision might cost me some comfort.
“Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things”—the necessary, sustaining things in life—“will be added to you.”
We have to believe this personally.
And sometimes we have to believe this about those who are close to us. As a parent or grandparent, the natural tendency is to want to keep the kids close and safe. But that’s not always God’s plan.
Don’t shepherd your child back into comfort and being close to you when God is moving them on and calling them elsewhere to serve Him.
I came across a video recently highlighting a Ukrainian pastor. It really helped me see beyond my comfortable Christian self. There are just a lot of people in this world who are in situations that are horrible. Unjustly suffering. This Ukrainian pastor—rather than running from difficulty, has used their country’s situation as unique gospel opportunity—showing the love and gospel of Christ.
We as Americans are uniquely pain averse. All humans are kind of this way, of course. There’s something wrong when someone is seeking out personal pain. But we as Americans are so extremely comfortable and wealthy, any ounce of challenge must somehow be bought away or avoided.
Don’t think that difficulty does not equal God’s will. Rather, pursue God’s priorities and He’ll take care of the needs we have.
3. Normalize God’s global activity in your family life.
Pray for our missionaries regularly. Have a stack of your church’s supported missionaries at your dinner table and pick one or two each night to pray for.
Read missionary biographies.
Follow modern missions activity. Frontline Missions does a fantastic job of this through their “Dispatches.” They have more than 10 1-hour-long video snapshots of where in the world the gospel is advancing. Go buy them, or stream them for free. Let them correct that global church myopia.
4. Normalize local church involvement in your family life.
Consider staying. But in staying, we dare not stay for comfort’s sake but for the gospel’s.
We, too, in our own local churches are part of God’s global activity.
Around the globe, God’s desire is that image-bearers from all the nations would glorify God for His mercy. Let’s lead our families in ways that will bring the global church into sharper focus.