The Church's Mission in a War-Worn World

Isa. 19:23-25.' In that day shall there be a high way out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria; and the Egyptians shall worship with the Assyrians. In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth: for that the Lord of Hosts hath blessed them, saying, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel mine inheritance.'

This is a great missionary text, none greater whether in the Old Testament or in the New. We can call it, 'A missionary sermon,' fit to take its place beside that which Paul uttered on the Areopagus to the younger Greek civilization. In it the prophet outlines a vision of ancient antagonisms done away, of mortal enemies reconciled, and of free and friendly intercourse between nations. And he points to Zion as the source from which these divinely healing influences shall flow out over all the earth.

We live in a time when missionary zeal appears to have diminished. There is still, no doubt, great activity, but the Church, generally, is lukewarm, and many view the missionary enterprise with complete indifference. They do not regard it as in any way vital, or as making any real contribution to human welfare. Many would find excuse for this indifference in such reflections as these: that there is good in all religions, that each people has probably the type of religion that suits it best, and that we may safely leave the heathen to the merciful judgment of God.

Yet the world's need is never greater. The world is in danger of perishing before our very eyes. There is a terrible fear gripping the nations, the fear of an overwhelming catastrophe which will bring final ruin upon civilization. And every nation is feverishly seeking some refuge for itself against the evil day. The Christian Church has a serious responsibility in respect of this situation. It is foolish to say, as has often been said, that the Church could have stopped World War Two if she had been in earnest, for the world in the heat of passion is none too apt to listen to Christian counsel. But we may affirm without controversy that if the Church in years past had more faithfully fulfilled her mission the state of the world would have been vastly different today. If a fraction of the money spent on armaments had been spent on Christian missions, if our Christian people had gone out into the world to evangelize rather than to exploit, we should have been many miles farther along the road to universal peace and brotherhood. So we may well think soberly to ourselves how grave a matter is this loss of interest in the evangelizing of the world. The death of the missionary spirit would mean ultimately the death of the Christian faith, and the death of the Christian faith would inevitably involve the destruction of our civilization which has been built upon it. It would bring incalculable loss to our spiritual life and to the social well-being of our people if we should cease to care about spreading the glad tidings of the Gospel.

Let us turn then to this ancient word of prophecy for guidance and inspiration. It may help us to view the missionary enterprise from a new angle. There is a vision here which is fitted to quicken us to a fuller conception of the greatness of the work and the service it can render to all mankind.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha