What in the world is going on? At the time of this writing, the world seems to be imploding. Israel and Hamas are engaged in an increasingly tense war. ISIS Islamic troops have taken control of much of democratic Iraq. On top of that, my own country has basically opened its borders freely to every nation on earth, no questions asked. What is happening?
I am blessed to have grown up in one of the most gospel-laden cultures on the planet: the Bible-belt of the Southern United States. While not a perfect place by any means, the presence of the gospel has made a positive impact on many facets of the community. In the South, what your Jesus-loving Grandmother would say about your actions still influences you. That’s a silly illustration, but it makes a point. The gospel has impact in that part of the world.
The Impact of the Gospel
The more the gospel is present in a culture, the better off that culture will be. It’s what Elmer Towns calls the “redemptive lift” of the gospel: when the gospel is present, all points of the society are lifted.
The reverse is also true.
The less the gospel permeates a person, family, group, or nation, the more debased in all points they become.
The gospel is light and it pushes back the darkness. The gospel is love; it repels hate. The gospel is hope; it banishes despair. The gospel is truth; it lays waste deception. The gospel is victory; it dismisses defeat. The gospel is success; it prevents failure.
It’s very common to hear people say “I just don’t know what the world is coming too” or “I can’t believe how far we’ve fallen”. But when you understand the principle that to remove the gospel is to invite in debauchery, you will not be surprised.
The Gospel and Nations
I live in what is considered a “developing” nation – the Philippines. The old terminology for countries like the Philippines is the “Third World”. I have also visited developing countries in the Middle East where poverty is rampant and frankly unbelievable from a Western perspective such as mine.
What is the reason for the poverty, violence, and dis-organization found in so many places on earth? It is the absence of the gospel. More specifically, the gospel is not present in large enough terms to “lift” the culture.
What is the only ultimate answer to the violence of ISIS and radical Islam? It’s not laser guided bombs. It’s the gospel.
This is why I am afraid for America. The gospel is retreating from the United States. It is moving to other places, like the Philippines, at incredible speed. My heart aches for my country when I think of the future of a gospel-less society. I’ve seen what the absence of the gospel does to people, families, communities, and nations. It’s not the place you want to be.
This is why I believe church planting to be the most important task in our world today. A gospel-centered church in a community is a light that drives away debauchery and promotes healthy communities.
The absence of the gospel will be our ruin; its presence is our salvation.