Spring is a time for cardinals. Like we have cardinals dining every morning at our backyard birdhouse. Oh, and there’s the baseball Cardinals. They gather in Florida for spring training, and the fans start counting down to Opening Day…we hope.
And then the cardinals every few years migrate to Rome to elect a new pope, as they did several springs ago. Knowing that the pope would symbolize and shape the largest religious institution in the world. The cardinals, you could tell back then, clearly felt the weight of their decision in Rome, and some of them talked about it, expressing in advance the kind of man they thought the church needed.
I’m Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about “Leaders For our Time.”
I was struck by what one Cardinal had to say about the times in which we live. I thought they were pretty perceptive. He was talking about what’s needed in a 21st Century pope. But I thought he gave any of us who care about the cause of Christ in our generation something to think about. He said, “Great secularism is pervading the church and prevailing all around us, so it brings a sense of urgency that we need to be re-proposing the Gospel.”
Well, 20 centuries ago, Jesus described what the world will look like just before He returns. He said, “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most” – He’s talking about His followers – “will grow cold…and this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:12, 14).
Creeping carelessness about sin and coldness toward Jesus for most of His people, but not all. Some are going to be on fire, sensing the two-minute warning on God’s clock. And they will abandon the apathy of the age and they’re going to go for broke to give everyone on this planet a chance at Jesus. Let’s call it the cold and the bold.
That Cardinal contributed some additional insight on how relevant leadership will have to adapt. He said, “We will need to be able to reach out through all the means of communication today, especially social communications, to be present all over the world.”
Rewind 2,000 years and hear God’s Ambassador, Paul, articulating a spiritual rescue strategy for all times. “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). By all possible means. In order to be what did he say? “Present all over the world.” Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Google, Twitter, Amazon, smart phones, mobile apps, words that represent a worldwide revolution in communications – instant access to whatever. Things to buy, things to entertain, things that will corrode your soul, or if we Jesus-followers hear the wake-up call, things that could help reach a soul.
There are 35 times the number of people here than there were when Jesus gave His final orders in our word for today from the Word of God, Mark 16:15, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere.” Now there are nearly eight billion humans on earth and over 150,000 slip into eternity every day.
We can’t trap the life-saving Gospel of Jesus inside church walls or comfortable methodologies. In today’s cynical and tribalized world, the primary messenger of Jesus’ Good News is you – the everyday believer. And the most effective means of reaching the most hearts are outside the box.
James Martin’s description of what kind of leader the Roman Catholic Church needed I thought sums up the kind of leader I want to be for my Lord. As the editor-at-large for America Magazine, he said that the next pope needed to be someone who’s “holy, who can effectively preach the gospel.” And he said “Jesus used any and all media to communicate.” So he called for preaching “with an understanding of how people hear.”
I want to have the courage to go beyond the comfy Christian cocoon. To embrace “all possible means” for getting the message of the cross to people in the places where they are, with the words they can understand.