With a worldwide population of 7.2 billion people (and counting), it can be overwhelming when considering the gravity of how many people don’t know Jesus. Making a difference seems more and more daunting as the world grows around us.
According to Philip Jenkins in his book, The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity there will be 3 billion Christians by the middle of this century. This is an astonishing number but Islam will also be approaching nearly 2.3 billion adherents.
Even with such incredible numbers in regards to the human population, Christians have never had more access to resources with which to reach people with the gospel. Cell phones, the Internet, mass transportation, breaking of language barriers, international relations, etc. are all incredible tools that God has given to make reaching people a reality.
According to the latest numbers for the International Mission Board (IMB), their personnel efforts reach 949 people groups. However, their unreached people groups total 3,201.
The number of Christians is growing in places such as East Asia, Africa and the Middle East but it is seeing staggering decline in Europe and the Americas. Birmingham, AL, for example is in the Bible Belt and was ranked #1 as America’s Most Bible-Minded City in 2015 with 51% of its population qualifying as Bible-minded. However, 49% have no affiliation with the gospel whatsoever and there is more access to the gospel here than anywhere on Earth, which seems contradictory.
3,201 people groups have no access to the gospel; meanwhile, there are thousands of Christians living consistently normal and average lives right here in Birmingham. The call to action looks different for every person but the reason behind the action is consistent. Pastor Jason Dees quoted Samuel Pierce who said, “Peculiar circumstances should not object positive commands from the Holy Spirit.” He means that most people will have an excuse as to why they can’t go on mission but that doesn’t exempt us from obeying God’s call to go.
The temptation is for Christians to let the weight of those who are lost, outweigh the blessings of those that are saved. The joy that we receive from the Holy Spirit is what propels us into our surroundings to make His name great. I’ve heard it said this way before, “Some can give. Some can go. All can pray.” The better way of looking at those statements would be: All can give of their time and resources (big or small), All can go wherever they are planted and All MUST pray.
In our quite, comfortable neighborhoods do we really know our neighbors? Jesus tells us our most important commandments in Mark 12 and the second most important one is, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The overwhelming numbers of lost people are not meant to scare us, rather they are meant to encourage us to love our neighbor.
It is true that God doesn’t call everyone to move to a far away land but he does call His followers to share His name. We can’t let the burden of salvation for all the world rest on our shoulders; Jesus has already taken that burden and given us the Holy Spirit to give us strength. Being able to partake in such a globally eternal mission should strike boldness and love into our hearts.
That boldness comes from the fact that we have the answer that every person is looking for: Jesus Christ. Acts 4:12 says, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
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