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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Do YOU Have the 'Nero' Syndrome?

It is said that Roman Emperor Nero 'fiddled whilst Rome burned'. His rule stretched from 54AD to 68AD, and he was the fifth and last of the Roman Emperors. During the course of his rule he achieved much, focusing much of his attention on increasing trade and the cultural development of the capital of the empire, although his reign was one that was littered with acts of the most extravagant cruelty and barbarism. His persecution of the early Christians was terrible, often using them as human torches. Despite his various achievements and the extent of his cruelty, including the murder of his own mother and step-brother, generally speaking he is remembered as the Emperor who fiddled whilst Rome burned in the great fire of 64AD.

The indication is that he simply stood by, comfortably ensconced in his own luxury, buttressed by his great wealth, and showing a lack of concern for the people at large.

Every Christian is commissioned by Jesus Christ to seek out the lost and take the Gospel message to them, sharing the Good News of Jesus and the promise of Salvation through Repentance. Jesus said, Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, (Matthew 28:19 [NIV translation]).

I believe that it is the duty of every Christian to be concerned with the lost souls in the world who have yet to hear the Good News that Jesus came to earth to bring to mankind. As we draw closer to the season of Advent so our thoughts turn once again to the simplicity of the whole Advent story, and the humble circumstances in which God Himself came down to be amongst His people to reconcile them to Himself. As children we are taught about Jesus as the Shepherd of the sheep, and perhaps one of the most telling image we have is that of the shepherd leaving the 99 sheep safely in the fold whilst he goes to search for the one that is lost. Here then is our example of what we should be doing as committed Christians in today's world.

Christianity is far more than attending church on a Sunday or of being seen as a good person; it's a way of life. When we meet with people they should be aware that there is something different about the manner in which we live our lives, with our concern for the welfare of others being a prominent feature. Taking that concern to the maximum degree means that it should encompass not only the general well-being of others but essentially the spiritual well-being also. Of prime importance for every Christian should be a burden for those souls that remain lost because they have not been witnessed to about the gift of salvation found only in Jesus Christ. Across the Third World in particular there are millions of souls hungry for the Gospel and yet insufficient Christians prepared to do anything about it. Where the Gospel has been preached there is a thirst for the Word of God, yet the great majority of Bibles are printed in English, a language that is spoken by less than ten percent of the World's people, leaving approximately two-thirds of the global population without even a portion of the bible printed in their own language.

How easy it is to dismiss the need for the work of Mission. It is argued by many that in this Age of Global Communication the amount of Christian material to be found on air or on the Internet is suffice for all, yet that argument can only be applied at best to those who have access to such material, once again leaving the majority behind. In the end, there is nothing like face-to-face witness, whether it is literally on a one-to-one basis, small groups or Revival Rallies. Firstly the need is for the lost to hear the Word, but then the hearing needs to be followed up by teaching and by sharing the reading of Holy Scripture.

Understandably, there will be many who point out that they cannot leave their work and uproot their families in order to 'go out into the Mission field', yet there are many ways of helping the work by supporting those who can go financially. Whether donating to organisations such as the Bible Society for the purpose of increasing the availability of the Word in both language and quantity or donating to Mission-based organisations such as 'Gospel for Asia', 'Heaven's Family' or 'India Village Ministries', all of which do a great job in answering their particular calling. to give financial support to such organisations is a privilege, and through it we are helping to save many souls from being consigned to the fires of Hell. The argument by some people against such giving is that they cannot possibly afford it, yet in the Western World in particular, that argument does not hold water for even those who are on pension or are unemployed are wealthy when measured against the per capita income of the greater majority of folk in the world. Even giving ten per cent of your disposable income, however it is obtained, still leaves you with the remaining ninety percent for yourself. before I am accused of pushing 'tithing' let me state categorically that I am not. Tithing is not a condition in the New Testament. However, I believe that to set aside some specific proportion of your wealth as a minimum for supporting the Lord's work is a very good policy to adhere to.

At present there are too many who suffer with the 'Nero' syndrome, and stand by whilst hundreds of souls are lost on a daily basis simply because they could not be reached in time. Many of them are children, lost because there was nobody available to reach them in time. It may be considered that the cost of providing Mission workers in the field is too high to be able to make sufficient difference, yet most local missionaries in the Third World are able to survive and carry on their important work for just a few pounds or few dollars a day. An organisation such as Gospel for Asia, for example, supports an indigenous evangelist in the Mission field for as little as between £1000 and £1500 per year (approx. US$1500 to US$2500). That means that for approximately £20 per week you could be personally responsible for sending out an evangelist to share the message of the Gospel in the Mission field. OK, so you argue that you could never afford that amount! If that truly is the case, and I'm sure that for many it may well be, then why not get together as a group of four people to donate £5 per week. After all, that's about the cost of a packet of cigarettes or a couple of drinks or a week's newspapers. If you still think that it's far too much just imagine if someone close to you gave you £5 for your birthday or for Christmas when you know that they could afford £20!

The subject of lost souls should be one that really burdens you; one that will not let you rest until you are doing all you can to help them to realise their Salvation. This is something to start with today, and not to put off until tomorrow, for tomorrow will be too late for far too many.

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