How to be a World-class Christian
Paul Borthwick, Authentic Media
Last year we celebrated the centenary of the First World Missionary Conference in Edinburgh 1910 and possibly recalled the dynamic personality of John R. Mott, an American Methodist layman with a passion for world mission.
This passion fired a growing ecumenical movement, which led to the formation of the World Council of Churches in 1948 and to the many ecumenical bodies worldwide which sustain evangelism and the many aspects of Christian service.
Paul Borthwick’s book brings to mind the band of students who responded to Mott’s 19th-century call for worldwide evangelism — but that pioneering work is not recalled in the book, which expresses the Christian faith in the American evangelical mould.
Borthwick emphasises that much has changed during recent decades and contemporary means of travel and communication offer possibilities for world mission not available in the past.
There is no doubt that Borthwick has a passion for world mission. His use of the phrase “world-class Christian” needs to be understood in his words: “A world-class Christian is one whose lifestyle and obedience are compatible, in cooperation, and in accord with what God is doing and wants to do in our world.”
Such a Christian will be well-informed about the scriptures, the present situation of the nations of the world, the local environment in which that person lives, the use of unceasing prayer, an appropriate lifestyle and the stewardship of possessions and money.
Borthwick recognises that this is a tall order and he has sensible advice about how to undertake each of these matters.
The book has 13 chapters, each with a study section at the end, making it suitable both for individual and group use.
An appendix provides “One Hundred Extraordinary Ways to Participate in God’s Global Purpose”. These are based on the locations mentioned in Acts 1: 8, so the ways to participate begin in Jerusalem (the people around us), move to Judaea (people of our own culture), then to Samaria (moving across cultures), and finally to the ends of the earth (international outreach).
There are many illustrations of what individuals and couples have done to become world-class Christians. There is recognition that each person should respond within their own gifts and capacities but there is a constant challenge to grow through prayer.
While Borthwick’s theology and ecclesiology would not sit comfortably with people who adhere to the Uniting Church’s Basis of Union, he presents a clear challenge to us all, no matter what our age may be, to look beyond the community in which we worship and live, and to see how God has “reasserted claim over the whole of creation” (Basis of Union, Paragraph 3).
Alan Demack AO