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Charles Finney, probably the greatest American revivalist ever, once said, “the great business of the church is to reform the world. The Church of Christ was originally organized to be a body of reformers. The very profession of Christianity implies the profession and virtually an oath to do all that can be done for the universal reformation of the world.” Not surprisingly, his converts became troops to bring reform to his age and greatly contributed to the anti-slavery movement.

Even recently former South African President, Nelson Mandela, during a critical period of escalating violence in South Africa prior to provincial elections in 1996 said, “You in the Church do not realize the power and influence you have. You must understand that the politicians have not succeeded in bringing peace. That’s why we need the church so much right now, we need you to help bring reconciliation.” He called on Michael Cassidy of African Enterprise and two senior church leaders to call on the Church to help bring peace to a situation where 20 people were being murdered daily. Project Ukuthula (Zulu for “peace”) was initiated and within six weeks the murder rate had dropped to zero. The elections were also carried out peacefully.

Regional peace was only possible through reconciliation mediated by the Church. Yet for this to happen, reconciliation has to start within the Church. Only in seeing this will the world, in large measure, believe that it is speaking with the authority of God. Jesus prayed earnestly for believers to “continue to have unity in the way that you, Father, are in me and I am in you. I pray that they may be united with us so that the world will believe that you have sent me.” (Gospel of John 17:21).

Unfortunately many within the Church can be silent over the need for reconciliation while evil flourishes.  We see this prior to the Rwandan genocide of 1994. One Rwandan church leader pointedly said, “there was a spiritual genocide in Rwanda before the human holocaust.” Yet we also see this problem, to varying degrees, in most communities across world today.  A lack of love and affirmation from Christians, particularly toward other believers, is doing untold damage to the growth and extension of the Kingdom of God.  Doctrinal, moral and political issues are some of the reasons given to validate our unloving actions and attitudes.  Indeed, as Michael Cassidy writes, the “church can be active in a supposedly spiritual or socio-political arena, but so lack the style and fruit of Christian grace and spirituality that it becomes a travesty of the gospel and a source of utter confusion to a watching world.”

Furthermore just as the Ancient Israelites rejected God by wanting a King for protection and justice, we too can look to our structures and political systems for protection and justice.  How frequently we can forget to live our lives under the leadership, protection and guidance of the Lord.  Yet when we do, usually when all else has failed or we are in a desperate situation, we witness the incredible power, direct intervention and grace of God.  Testimonies attesting to this fact are not just found in biblical history but are being repeated around the world today.  When and where the Church truly repents, turns from its wicked ways and seeks the face of the Lord, we witness remarkable healing of the land and salvation from desperate circumstances (2 Chronicles 7:14). 

Jesus died so that the world might be saved.  In order for the World to believe in Him He has placed an enormous responsibility on His Church to love each other and those around them.  For this to practically occur, serious attention must be given to the way we relate to others and how Christians can live, with all of our diversity, in His Kingdom together.

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