North American Christianity needs a baptism of tears.
Instead of polarized invective that tears up apart, we need the tears of divine empathy to unite our hearts. The God of the Bible weeps and laughs, grieves deeply and dances with joy (Jeremiah 8-9; Zeph. 3; Luke 10, 19). Imagine our conversations with God and each other if we experience a baptism of tears:
We will weep deeply as we confront the racism and shed joyful tears as forgiveness triumphs over retaliation. We will weep, hearing the cries of creation as humans despoil the earth and we will cry aloud with delight as gospel hope inspires ecological healing.
We weep in intercession for our neighbors lost without Christ and shed tears of joy as converts are baptized and prodigals discover Abba Almighty waiting for them.
We will weep when a sister or brother suffers and find our eyes moist when healing flows.
This baptism of tears purges hubris and hypocrisy from our hearts. Tears will inspire love for enemies as we realize their need of grace.
Billy Graham’s recent passing way at age 99 stirs up deep emotions as I consider the impact of his preaching and service. In addition to billions hearing the gospel and millions converted, thousands of leaders were trained and millions more helped with compassion outreach.
Along with John Stott, Graham is the founder of the Lausanne Movement, a global evangelical network that is dedicated to evangelization and human flourishing in the kingdom. In just over 40 years, we have seen a shift in global Christianity from “the West to the rest” to ministry now being “from everywhere to everywhere” and the majority of Christians residing in non-Western nations.
As he reflected in an interview with Diane Sawyer on his life and ministry he said, “I wish I would have done more about race.” This from a man who integrated his meetings and lost friends as he rightly rejected racism and segregation. He also regretted the lack of time with his family and proper self-care…what humility for a world leader!
A voice of my lifetime, bearing witness to grace and truth. our best tribute? Faithful service and witness in all I do. And continually growing in kindness, love and wisdom. May we begin every encounter with every person with love and respect. The Cross welcomes all and when the Holy Spirit is working, there is a new sociology.
Everyone is offering insights on trends and possible future. I add my voice, but in a different key. The following are universals that will happen regardless of personal or political decisions. The real question is how each of us will steward each day. Here are some insights for 2018:
God’s mission will go forward, with millions coming to faith and thousands of new churches planted.
The Gospel will continue its competition with missionary and militant Islam and increasingly militant pagan-secular elites determined to eradicate Christianity as a major force in the West.
God’s people will keep finding each other and discover new ways of uniting in the face of cultural implosions.
American politics will be polarized, but small progress will be made as elected officials prepare for midterm elections in November 2018.
Global economic progress will continue, with millions more gaining access to markets and opportunities.
Serious challenges remain in American cities as the gap between those who can afford housing and those on the margins keeps growing.
Many American churches will experience significant renewal in local communities, especially those parishes that care deeply about all aspects of personal and community flourishing.
The Warriors and Celtics will meet for the NBA championship.
Many prayers for a wonderful New Year!