To the end of the earth
Even though the Earth is a ball it has lots of corners and ends. And this is where the glad tidings are to be carried. Here is a road map from a divine service by the Chief Apostle to show us where this will lead.
The Ascension Day service on 16 May 2021 from Saarbrücken in Germany revolved around a proclamation of Jesus Christ: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1: 8). And, in fact, persecuted Christians fled there and spread the gospel throughout the world from there.
“We have received the gift of the Holy Spirit and thus the strength to be witnesses of Jesus Christ,” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider said. So this applies to us, he said. To be witnesses means passing on the message to all people: “Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He wants salvation, He has established His church on earth, He has sent His Apostles, He will return.”
Focusing on what is most important
The early Christians had to accept that circumcision and dietary rules did not matter to the Gentiles. “This is not at all important for salvation,” the Chief Apostle explained the reference: “The Apostles had to focus on what was most important: Jesus Christ. Otherwise the message would have remained only in Jerusalem.”
“This also applies to us, dear brothers and sisters,” he said. “Everything that has to do with our person, our history, with our culture is fine, but it is irrelevant for salvation. This is where we have to draw a line.” Some might ask themselves: “Is this still my Church?” The answer: “Many things have changed, but if you take a close look, it has nothing to do with salvation. What’s essential has remained. The message of salvation is unchanged.”
This is what we must focus on, the Chief Apostle said, and mentioned three aspects:
- We can only reach people, regardless of their personal background, with the essential message.
- Those who focus on what is essential do not find it unsettling when the Church develops, when culture, tradition, and interpretation change from time to time.
- It is easier to pass on the essentials to the next generation if we do not impose our own way of living our faith.
With the power of the Holy Spirit
“Let us carry the message of the gospel to the end of the earth and share it with all people,” the Chief Apostle exhorted the congregation. That means:
- let us not set ourselves any limits. Neither unbelief nor a different faith should prevent us from talking to someone else about salvation in Christ.
- let us make our lives a witness of Christ wherever we are: in the congregation, scattered , or completely isolated and lonely. Let us continue to testify of the truth and the efficacy of the gospel in our actions.
- we must also reckon with difficulties because we want to live our lives according to the gospel. Yet, let us not give up but attest to the truthfulness, the effectiveness of the message of Jesus Christ. Now, today, do it.
- “To the end of the earth” also means that we want to live every detail of our earthly lives according to the gospel.
“God gives us the strength to do this through the Holy Spirit, whom we have received,” Chief Apostle Schneider explained. “What does the Holy Spirit do? He reminds us of God’s love. God loves you, Jesus Christ died for you, He made us children of God. And if we allow Him to work in us, He will unfold this love within us, love for God and love for our neighbour. It is precisely this love that enables us to continue to proclaim salvation and pass on the message.”