Imagine two men engaged in a conversation on an international flight. These two men, presumably businessmen, are strangers to each other. As they talked with each other, it was revealed that one was a businessman. The second man was a representative of a worldwide organization with franchises in every country.
“Really?” asked the first. “You must work for Coca Cola.”
“No,” replied the second, “We have far more field representatives than they’ll ever have! We have more employees and more customers, if you can call them that.”
Now, the first man was definitely intrigued. “Microsoft?”
“No – infinitely bigger.”
“Again, much bigger.”
“Well, then I can’t imagine who you work for. Tell me.”
The second man looked him straight in the eye and replied that he was a minister in the church of Jesus Christ.
Think about it. The largest institution on the planet, the kingdom that contains more citizens than any country on earth, the association that has the most members, the world’s biggest most diverse family, is the church of Jesus Christ.
Not any one denomination within Christendom, but the collective body that professes to believe in the Son of God comprises the largest group of people on the globe.
Christ’s church contains members from every country and every race, speaking a vast multitude of languages, from every socio-economic stratum. There’s simply no other group, institution or fellowship even remotely similar. That’s true diversity.
Dr. Paul L. Maier is a great scholar and professor of ancient history. He has a very sharp understanding of the big picture of the human story.
He once told me in an interview, “Well, there’s no question that the Christian church is the most successful phenomenon, even statistically considered, of anything that has ever happened on this planet.”
He gave these statistics as an example: “There are two billion, 250 million Christians across the globe and nobody has statistics like that. The nearest competitor would be Islam, with about a billion, 100,000 adherents.”
Dr. Maier added, “So there’s no other religion, there’s no other faith, way of life, institution, governmental group, ethnic group – you name it – that has that number. … There’s hardly an area of the world that Christianity has not touched. And in many ways it’s a remarkable fulfillment of the command that Jesus made in Matthew 28 when he sent out His disciples to conquer the world for His message.”
Sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged. Sometimes it’s terrible to read about the regress of the church in parts of the world – including our part. We’re reminded of that virtually every day.
- Christians have lost many aspects of the culture war in the West.
- Formerly Christian institutions (like Harvard) now often promote the opposite message.
- There’s unprecedented slaughter of Christians in some parts of the Muslim world.
Yet as Dion DiMucci sang years ago in his song “I Believe (Sweet Lord Jesus)”: “When kids run laughing by on Sunday mornings / You can hear the distant church bells chime / You see how we’ve survived the thousand decades / Don’t you know he helped us through that time?”
Every Christmas is a reminder that the King of kings, seated at the right hand of God the Father, is slowly building His church in virtually every nation on earth – even in places where it is extraordinarily dangerous to be a Christian. The future belongs to Him.
It’s amazing when you consider that all this began so modestly 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem, where a visitor could easily have been repulsed at the smells of the original Christmas – as the Son of God was laid in a manger, not a bed for baby Jesus, but a feeding trough for animals.
But these were simply the humble roots of the most successful enterprise in the history of humanity. As has been said, “Despise not small beginnings.” Merry Christmas!