The Apostle Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians that we are compelled, or controlled, by the love of Christ.
Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience. We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart. If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
(2 Co 5:11–15 NIV).
Because Christ has shown His love to us, we are to show that same love to others. The love that we have experienced through God, is the love that we persuade others with. We persuade others to follow Christ and convince them that Christ's death on the cross and His resurrection to new life, gives us life.
It was a privilege to be part of the IBCM Network conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia from 19 - 24 June 2023. The conference theme was “For Christ’s Love Compels Us” based on this passage in 2 Corinthians 5. We were encouraged with daily ministry focuses around Unity, Mission, Discipleship, Care, and Worship. As one family over 1200 participants from 104 countries gathered to celebrate, worship, and be inspired for ministry and mission together. The keynote speakers, Ramez Atallah (Egypt) and Nate Bramsen (USA), brought messages encouraging us to believe that anything is possible with God, and that God wants to redeem, reconcile, and transform this broken world with his love, bringing beauty from ashes. IBCM8 also had a specific youth focus, so it was encouraging to see over 100 Youth Ambassadors from over 70 countries. There were a number of youth focused components including youth panels, a youth network track, and short term mission trips. For those of you interested, [here] are the recording of the sessions. We will meet again in Africa for IBCM9 in 2027.
As Christian Brethren, we are part of a network of local church fellowships from around the world. Communication and knowledge are important for mutual support, to maintain fellowship, and to collaborate, both within countries and around the world. This year, the IBCM conference provided an opportunity to meet , to learn and worship together, and to enjoy fellowship with each other. It is good to be reminded of the scale of the Christian Brethren movement worldwide today. There are congregations in more than 140 countries around the world. It is estimated that there are over 40,500 Christian Brethren gatherings around the world each week representing around 3.6 million adults and children. Growth of our movement around the world is mixed. A century and a half of missionary effort have been successful in shifting the Christian Brethren into the global south and east, away from the old north and west. Now 27,550 of the 40,538 gatherings (68%) are in the Africa and Asia. We need to be thankful to God for steady growth that we see in Asia, Africa, and Oceania, however we need to continue to pray for our witness in the west, where grow is static in North America and in decline in Europe.
In the Christian Brethren, the shift of its centre of gravity is decisively towards the global south and east, reinforced by the proportions of children and young people there. . . In the north and the west, we must be careful about assuming that we are still dominant. It is true, but perhaps increasingly less true, that we have the resources. But Christians, of all people, should be careful about thinking that that allows us to assume that it is for us to teach and command.
(The Brethren Movement Worldwide, 6th Edition)
Our task is not done.
Christ's love compels us to share the love of God, just as it compelled the Apostle Paul two thousand years ago. Attending the IBCM conference was a great encouragement to see that God is still working around the world. He continues to impact lives and transform communities in every part of the world. But it was also a reminder that there is more to do. We need to be grateful to those men and women that faithfully minister around the world to make the love of Christ known. God wants all of us to continue sharing the love of Christ in our communities, in our home countries and around the world. Be encouraged for all that has been done, and continue to pray that God will continue to raise up men and women, young and old, who are compelled by the love of Christ to reconcile all the nations back to God (2 Cor 5:16-21).