The Christian Church today often has an inferiority complex. A few generations ago the pastor of a church was the most educated and respected leader in the community. There was a day when, because of this cultural situation, the Church exercised the predominant influence in the structure of Western community life. That day has long passed. We have often felt that the world has thrust the Church into a corner and passed us by. The Church does not count in the world at large. The United Nations is not calling upon the Church for advice in the solution of its problems. Our political leaders do not often depend upon leaders in the Church for their guidance. Science, industry, labour, education: these are the circles where wisdom and leadership are usually sought. The Church is brushed aside. Sometimes we get that feeling that we really do not count. We are on the margin of influence, we have been pushed over on to the periphery instead of standing squarely in the centre; and we pity ourselves and long for the world to pay attention to us. Thus we fall into a defensive attitude and attempt to justify our existence. Indeed, our main concern seems often to be that of self-preservation, and we assume a defeatist interpretation of our significance and of our role in the world!
….God has said this about no other group of people. This Good News of the Kingdom of God must be preached, if you please, by the Church in all the world for a witness to all nations. This is God’s programme. This means that for the ultimate meaning of modern civilization and the destiny of human history, you and I are more important than the United Nations. What the Church does with the Gospel has greater significance ultimately than the decisions of the Kremlin. From the perspective of eternity, the mission of the Church is more important than the march of armies or the actions of the world’s capitals, because it is in the accomplishment of this mission that the divine purpose for human history is accomplished. No less than this is our mission.
Let us be done with this inferiority complex. Let us for ever lay aside this attitude of self-pity and lamentation over our insignificance. Let us recognize what we are as God sees us and let us be about our divinely appointed programme. This Good News about the Kingdom must be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations and then shall the end come. I am glad, indeed proud, to be a part of the Church of Christ because to us has been committed the most meaningful and worthwhile task of any human institution. This gives to my life an eternal significance, for I am sharing in God’s plan for the ages. The meaning and destiny of history rests in my hands.
George Eldon Ladd, Gospel of the Kingdom: Scriptural Studies in the Kingdom of God (Eerdmans, 1959), Kindle edition, location 1996-2012.