… make disciples of all nations …
… preach the good news to all creation.
Those two commands from Jesus – found in the last chapters of Matthew and Mark respectively – are quite familiar. However, in today’s world they seem to be unrealistic … even impossible.
With a global population of nearly 6.9 Billion people – and more than 6.5 Billion of those people live outside the U.S. – and more than half that number has no connection with Christianity whatsoever – the challenge to reach the world appears to be insurmountable.
With all the methods of communication available to Christians today – radio, television, internet, Facebook, etc. – you might think the opportunities to fulfill the Great Commission are greater than ever. Yet many of us would honestly admit that a worldwide evangelistic revival for Christ, at least in our lifetime, though desirable does not seem possible.
However, nearly 2,000 years ago – long before even the printing press was invented – God inspired Paul to share with Timothy a simple strategy that just might reach the world:
And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.—II Timothy 2:2
How can that “simple” strategy reach the world? For years I’ve been fascinated by the mathematical implications of Paul’s words to Timothy (math can be easier than obedience). If one person seriously and successfully obeyed Paul’s command – at the rate of one person per year – how long would it take to reach the world’s population – 6.9 Billion people?
You do the math:
- One person reaches and trains one other person in the first year to follow Christ and to also reach and train others at same rate – one per year. At the end of one year, the total is only 2, and at the end of two years, the total is only 4.
- However, at the end of ten years the total is more than 1,000, and at the end of twenty years the total is more than 1,000,000.
- At this rate, the current population of the world – nearly 6.9 Billion – would be reached during the 33rd year!
I know that’s only a theoretical math exercise – one that I’ve now been playing for more than 33 years. But it’s important to remember that all those we encounter – and especially those with whom we have a relationship – provide an opportunity for us to be involved in changing the world!
Church of Christ
5120 Franklin Road
Nashville, Tennessee 37220
Phone: (615) 832-2541
Fax: (615) 832-2583