This month’s guest blogger is Raymond Pfister, Director of Ichthus21, the European Institute for Re/conciliation Studies, a Christian organisation devoted to the development of Europe.

It is in John 3:16, possibly the most known Scripture of all, that we are constantly reminded that “God so loved the world…”.  Except Europe maybe, I have been wondering, when listening to the reasoning and attitude some evangelical Christians have adopted towards the old continent?

There is really no doubt possible, is there?  God actually loves Europe… not because it is such a nice place to visit during our next vacation, but because the people who live in Europe have been created in the image of God and are all in need of redemption.  There can be no doubt either that European (just as much as national) institutions are God’s servants (cf. Romans 13), yet we know that they are far from being immune against failure, corruption and power abuse.  God’s ultimate sovereignty will certainly prevail.

If the life and mission of the Christian Church is about following the example of Jesus, one does not become light of the world (not even in Europe) by way of isolationism or salt of the earth (not even in Europe) by way of avoiding the risk of contamination.  Jesus came to a world of sinners and identified with them.  He knew that this was the only way he could really make a difference.  In order to reach out to people it takes the will to embrace and the resolution not to turn your back.  Jesus never hesitated in the name of love to be part of us, even though he could have been tempted to think that he would be better off without us – is he not so different after all?

On the one hand, the European puzzle is made up of a great variety of people with cultures, languages and traditions of their own.  On the other hand, there has probably never been a greater movement of people within Europe than in our own time.  From the Scandinavian North to the Iberian Peninsula, from the British Isles to the Baltic States, people are coming together and experiencing diversity and difference as never before.

The good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is about adopting that kingdom mentality which allows us to see the broader (European) picture as opposed to a narrow-minded, monocultural reality.  The Christian faith empowers us to engage the other (European) with compassion instead of fear.  This Gospel of hope is about building bridges, not walls of separation (we have had enough of them in Europe!).  The Kingdom of God cannot be understood without a strong concept of group solidarity replacing the search of our own particular interest.  Kingdom mentality confesses that we are stronger together and that it is possible to live together regardless of gender, ethnicity, economic circumstances or even political preference.

Why are evangelical Christians living in Europe more fascinated by missionary journeys to fields afar, while missing the chance to really change our European societies?  Can we afford not to have our mentalities changed by the power of the Holy Spirit?  Resisting the Spirit leads to despair; walking in the Spirit leads to hope.  I believe that those who follow Jesus are a people of hope.  It is precisely hope Europe needs, as we have been reminded by the recent HOPE FOR EUROPE Congress in Budapest (9-13 May 2011).  Help is however first needed for the helpers themselves – local churches in Europe need to be equipped in order to have a real European agenda, in word and deed, for the 21st century.

Raymond is passionate about Europe.  He is available to talk at churches, conferences and Bible colleges on the subject.  He can be contacted through his website or at contact@ichthus21.eu.