The World Is Our House
Jerónimo Nadal is a name known by few. During the height of the 16th century Protestant Reformation and the consequent Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation, Nadal aligned with a group of evangelistically minded Catholics that came to be called the Society of Jesus, later known simply as Jesuits. Another group of the time, the Theatines, shared a kindred spirit with the Jesuits and discussed the possibility of the two groups merging; however, Nadal would have none of it. Knowing that camaraderie with the Theatines would make the Jesuits appear more “monk-like,” he forcefully proclaimed, “the world is our house.” Nadal repudiated the cloistered existence of religious teachers, knowing that since the world would not come to the monastery, the teacher must go to the world. Though Protestants and Christians seeking to follow the New Testament pattern would certainly part company with Nadal’s Catholic doctrine, his attitude toward evangelism provides a sterling example.
As Jesus commissioned His apostles, He made it clear to them that their work was not local. Rather than encouraging them to maintain a fixed locale, He also commanded them to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Matthew 28:19 ESV). True to their Lord, these men traversed lands both near and far, seeking to bring the message of hope to a lost world. The book of Acts records only a minimal account of the journeys taken by the Lord’s ambassadors; yet, the Holy Spirit’s inspired record provides a glimpse into the lives of those faithful men who made the world “their house” and the reactions of those who heard their message.
Serious Christians desire an evangelistically-driven mindset; however, many find it difficult to approach others with the gospel of the Lord. It is not a lack of belief in God’s power, nor is it a lack of faith in Him that brings about a dearth of fervor to teach the lost; instead, it is fear. Many read the Lord’s call for worldwide evangelism and shudder at its overwhelming implications. For those with such fear, take heart! The “Great Commission” was given to the apostles of the Lord. While it provides a worthy example for those willing to uproot from the familiar and bring the message of God to souls in distant lands, it should never be viewed as a command for every child of God. Nowhere within the recorded epistles did the New Testament writers call for Christians to make such an evangelistically motivated pilgrimage to distant lands. However, does this relieve the Christian from his or her duty to teach the lost? Hardly!
When a lawyer asked about the greatest command, Jesus quickly responded that one should love God with heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37). Announcing the “second greatest command,” Jesus admonished that one should love a neighbor as oneself (vs. 39). It is within these words from the Lord that Christians find their authority and motivation for evangelism. Who, then, can be taught the saving message of the gospel? In answer to this question, the words of Nadal should ring clear: “The world is our house.”
The closest associations in “our house” are family members. Christians should never overlook the grand opportunities to teach those of their own physical bloodline about the saving power of the Lamb of God. Parents, in particular, should keep this in mind while raising their children since their greatest opportunity for evangelism will be with the souls they bring into the world. The lack of evangelism will sometimes bring Christians to lament that “we are baptizing no one except for members’ children.” Far from a lamentation, the new birth of young people blessed with Christian parents should create joy and enthusiasm that the saving message of Christ is impacting young hearts. While these conversions are heartening, Christians must also focus on the great opportunities to share the gospel with any family member who has not accepted the saving power of God.
Within “our house” are also a number of day-to-day contacts who may very well be in need of the gospel. The book of Acts contains the stories of a number of people whose only common link was their contact with someone teaching the gospel of Christ. Simon the Magician, Lydia, and the jailer in Philippi are three converts who were not necessarily looking for the gospel message, but responded appropriately when it was revealed to them. Christians should never overlook those in their daily sphere or ever “write off” contacts as uninterested. It may be that the only thing standing between someone and eternal security is the need for a friend or acquaintance to share the message of salvation.
Christians, do not view evangelism with dread or fear. Pray to your Father in Heaven for opportunities and seize every opportunity with vigor. As Jesus remarked to His disciples, “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest” (John 4:35). Though the world seems to grow darker by the day, the fields still glisten with those eager to hear about the Lord. The world is your house! Its residents need a message that will not only change their lives while in this worldly house, but will ultimately provide them a place in their Father’s house above (John 14:2).