Every time I ride the London tube I’m reminded that world appears to have come to Europe. When I turn on the news there’s story after story about the hundreds of thousands more people still desperately trying to reach our shores.
Why do so many people want to live in Europe today? I can actually relate to them pretty easily. I grew up in one of the world’s poorest nations – the Democratic Republic of Congo. Life there was (and sadly still is) very difficult between frequent civil wars, corruption, lack of access to adequate education and medical care…
In contrast I remember my first visit to Austria. I found myself wandering through historic central Linz looking into expensive shops selling luxury goods that even I could never afford. The people I met were well clothed and amazingly well educated. Everything appeared perfect and enchanting.
Compared to places like the Congo, Europe looks like heaven. Here we have stable governments, generous welfare programmes, free education, trustworthy medical care, shops full of food, good transportation systems, reliable electricity and running water… What’s more, when my wife goes to work in the morning I don’t have to worry whether she’ll make it home in that evening.
But that’s where things get complicated. Because while Europe may look like heaven, beneath its beautiful veneer there’s a problem. Europe has lost its spiritual way. As an example, only one in 200 people in Austria today is an evangelical Christian (according to Operation World). By contrast in the Congo almost one in every five is evangelical!
Don’t get me wrong – I’d much rather live in comfortable Europe than in a war-torn nation where my family has no guarantee of safety. But whether you’re living in a mansion in Monte Carlo or a slum in Kinshasa, you still need Jesus. Without him life now can be hell even if you live in Europe (just look at our rates of depression, addiction, suicide, family breakdown…). And without Jesus there will be no heaven when you leave this world, wherever you call home now.
So if you’re fortunate enough to live in Europe be sure to thank God for that blessing, because it certainly is one. But don’t forget that we are called to be witnesses, not to be comfortable.
One of the reason the church is growing in places like the Congo is because people there are still willing to talk about what God is doing in their lives. How he’s healed them of diseases, delivered them from spiritual oppression and freed them from the sins that used to control them.
If we’d just imitate our brothers and sisters in places like the Congo, and actually talk about our faith, I’m convinced Jesus can make our continent a much better place than it is now. Just imagine a new Europe filled with God’s hope, love and peace.
Now that would really be a place worth moving to!
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- If Europe is already heaven, why does it need Jesus? - 22nd February 2016