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Solidarity and the suffering Church

 

As a missions movement and as missionaries, we take to heart the needs of the Church around the world. In times of suffering we stand in solidarity with the Church and its message, offering prayer and moral support.

We go to a country to present the gospel of Jesus Christ — not any nation’s political philosophy. Believers around the world partner with us in our witness and our message without promoting human ideology.

The message of the gospel is unique and should never be contaminated with a political subtext. Having said that, there are issues that arise within a nation’s political landscape the gospel powerfully addresses. When believers take a strong stand for issues that are morally right and the Church supports, the reaction to that moral stand can be negative.

It is vital the Church presents its message and viewpoint on any social issue from a clearly biblical foundation rather than in the language of a political party or parachurch organization. When the message of the gospel and the support for a social issue come from the pulpit and are supported by God’s Word, God honors His truth and gives wisdom and resources aimed at real solutions.

I dealt with this as a missionary to El Salvador during that nation’s years of unrest. People from across the political spectrum attended our church. At times people felt that some gospel truths addressing social injustice favored one faction over another. But in the long run they saw that our leadership was fair in our approach.

The Bible talks about supporting and praying for our governments and praying for leaders who are over us. In El Salvador, we could pray for the government, we could pray for the situation of unrest, and we could address some of the social issues affecting the nation — all from the perspective of God’s Word.

Remembering those difficult years draws my attention to the continued challenges Christians face around the world. The scale of the problem can be overwhelming. But we have powerful resources. I believe we have underestimated the power of prayer. I am convinced as the Church takes up intercessory prayer, we will see God intervene. When true intercessory prayer goes before God’s throne on behalf of suffering Christians across our world, the Bible is clear in saying He does hear and He does act.

If we understand Scripture and the unfolding of the whole process of the Church, we know God has an overarching purpose that will carry His servants through any trial. As you read the Old Testament prophets as well as Jesus’ words in the New Testament, you see that the world political situation is going to get worse before it gets better. This is necessary for the fulfillment of God’s plan.

His plan, not human planning, must remain the center of our focus. We need to be even more careful as a church that we support the principles of Scripture, that we support clear biblical principles of what the Bible has to say about government, about justice and about the relationship we as a church have with that government.

As challenges multiply for the Church around the world, the whole issue of solidarity with brothers and sisters in need is going to become more and more the issue. One day, we may very well need them to stand with us as suffering reaches the Church in the United States. There is no reason to think we can be excluded from that.

If such days come, we will be compelled to evaluate all the more where our spiritual moorings are. We will discover no political system or ideology can hold us up or defend us. We must rely entirely on the providence and blessing of God. To me that is a big issue. Do we have God’s approval? The question of whether we have the approval of man-made organizations becomes irrelevant. The importance of our mission then is to remain faithful in our message and our witness and in the solidarity of our support of His Church around the world.

L. JOHN BUENO

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