How Big is Your World?

The last few instructions Jesus left his followers had to do with being witnesses and preaching the gospel to the whole world. (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8).

There is absolutely no question that the responsibility of all believers is to participate in spreading the gospel beyond their city (Jerusalem), their region (Judea), beyond their own kind (Samaria) and to the ends of the earth. Yet, very few have taken these commands seriously, and so after two thousand years we still have not reached the whole world and there are still many areas where the gospel has never been preached and there are still peoples that have not heard the gospel.

One of the questions people ask most frequently is “how will God judge those people who have not heard the gospel?”. That is the wrong question. The question should be “why has everyone not heard the gospel yet?” The answer is very easy – because we have not been obedient to the Great Commission. Yes, there are a faithful few who have gone but most Christians neither go themselves nor do they help the few who are faithful in going.

This leads to the question: “How big is your world?”. My guess is that for the vast majority of Christians, their world ends with themselves. It does not even extend to their family, let alone their neighbors, city, region or anything beyond. Even for “above average” Christians, their world only extends as far as their church. That is a huge progression from just self, but it does not even extend to their city, which is only first base.

The first believers in Jerusalem did at least reach out to their city but no further. For several years their world ended with Jerusalem and they forgot that they had been called beyond the city limits. Then God decided to remind them of their obligation – He sent them a wake-up call in the form of persecution. The result was not that they sent out a few missionaries but every single member of the church was forced to flee from Jerusalem – to Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth! What they had failed to do in several years, they suddenly did within one week (Acts 1:8).

Can you imagine what would happen if the Lord decided that He has had enough of your churches lukewarm attitude towards evangelism and missions and sent some calamity that would force every member to re-locate to other parts of the world! That would not be a very nice way for things to happen. But then, God’s program will not be thwarted by our disobedience. If we are not willing partners with God, he may take us along kicking and screaming but worse, He may decide to bypass us and call others who have the same compassion for the lost that He has.

And that is the most likely scenario. I have seen far too many churches loose God’s blessing and eventually die because they were unwilling to extend the borders of their world beyond themselves. In a sense that is what happened to Jerusalem. God actually destroyed that church and overnight it went from 10,000 members to 12. Then He began to rebuild it, but not with the original disobedient people but with a new congregation. Would you like to see that happen to your church? I don’t think so.

The reason why you are where you are and why the church is still on the earth is not so we can have a bless-me club, or even to worship God. The church is still in the world for only one reason and that is to preach the gospel and to win the lost to Christ. Worship, fellowship, prayer, Bible study and any other aspect of the life of the church can be done better in heaven than here on earth. If church life was only about fellowship with each other and with God then surely God would just rapture us all. But there is one thing that cannot be done in heaven and that is to reach the lost (because there are none there). Thus the only reason the church has not been raptured is because there are still souls out there that need to be saved. Peter says that the only explanation why Jesus has not returned is because “the Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (1Peter 3:9).

Evangelism and missions is not an optional extra that we may choose to add to our program if we felt so inclined. It is the very reason for our existence, both personally and corporately. If we lose the vision for the unsaved then we have lost our right to exist. So allow me to ask you a few questions:

Some Christians are so focused on their own comfort, position and selves that they cannot bear to see new people come into the church because that may upset their cozy little existence. Not only do such people not have a heart for the lost, but they actually work against those who do evangelize. But worse, not only do they not obey God’s direct command, they obstruct God when He does work. Can you imagine what He will do to such who choose to work with the Devil rather than with God?

So, how big is your world? Does it extend beyond your living room, TV and bless-me club. If your world does not include your entire city and region as well as people who are not like you and if it does not extend to the remotest parts of the earth, then you are very small and very poor. Finally, allow me to ask you – what are you personally doing, or what are you going to do to fulfill the command which Jesus gives you personally – to reach out to a world that is going to hell?

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:18-20)

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8)