“In the early years of my walk with Jesus Christ I lived under the illusion that Christianity was about me,” confesses author and teacher Jeff Lewis. “I thought that I (man) was the center of God’s world; that my needs were the basis for His actions.” In fact, in God’s Heart for the Nations Lewis goes so far as to say, “I believed that the ultimate purpose of God was to grant me salvation and enjoy me forever!”
Many others have observed (and unfortunately also experienced) much the same thing. A me-focused or man-focused view of the scriptures may seriously distort our understanding of God and His purposes. We become blind us to God’s compassion for others and ultimately miss His passion for His kingdom. Instead of praying for the whole earth to be full of His glory (Psalm 72:19) and praising Jesus for ransoming people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation (Revelation 7:9), we may keep our eyes focused on ourselves and reserve our prayers for our own concerns and the needs of those close to us.
Of course there is hope, lots of hope. God pursues us and wants to open our eyes to the things that matter most to Him, which includes but is not limited to the person each one of us sees in the mirror. Mission trips and other cross-cultural experiences push us out of our comfort zone. They bring us face to face with the reality of our own self-centeredness and His invitation to trust Him and see ourselves and the world through His eyes. Many missionaries, struggling to raise support or master language and culture, come to the end of their own resources to find God will provide … and not just for their own sake (though He is serious about blessing them) but for the sake of His name among the nations.
What does it look like to see the world through God’s eyes? In Let the Nations Be Glad John Piper put it this way:
“God is pursuing with omnipotent passion a worldwide purpose of gathering joyful worshippers for Himself from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. He has an inexhaustible enthusiasm for the supremacy of His name among the nations. Therefore, let us bring our affections into line with His, and for the sake of His name, let us renounce the quest for worldly comforts and join His global purpose.”
This summer, do you need a reminder of God’s heart for the world? What about a refresher to help you share it with others? Pick up Lewis’s book or Piper’s, or turn directly to the scriptures and ask God to show you the golden thread of His plan and purposes in redeeming the peoples He created. For a do-it-yourself Bible study, you might explore a collection of more than 500 Bible verses about God’s heart for the world at TheNations.us.