“Before the end comes, the gospel must be preached to all peoples”.
Mk 13:10 GNB
What is the most important task of the Christian church? It isn’t erecting magnificent buildings. It isn’t getting the Bible to the remotest corners of the earth. It isn’t explaining the creeds to all who do not know them. It is preaching the gospel. One of the emphases of apocalyptic thinking is the stress on the impending arrival of “the end”. It emphasises that time is short. We don’t have for ever – we cannot dither around or explore side roads. There is an urgency about the task God places on us. We don’t know just when the end will come. And the world is a big place with many cultures, languages, faiths, and thought systems.
The disciples did not know when Jesus spoke, that in a few short weeks the Holy Spirit would come upon them, at Pentecost, and send them out on this great mission. Within a generation the gospel would be heard in Asia Minor and Europe and even in Rome, the capital of the Empire. The memorial is still there to the suffering of the early martyrs in Rome’s ruined Colosseum. Millions visit it every year. It was there that Christian people were thrown to the lions for entertainment!
The mission is still incomplete these twenty centuries later, but it has begun, and most countries of the world have some form of Christian witness by means of which God speaks to his people. The gospel is for all peoples. It proclaims Jesus as Lord and Saviour, his disciples as his servants and the Holy Spirit as the great comforter and advocate. We dare not neglect the task. Indeed, we cannot.
Lord, recall your church to her primary task and calling.