According to the United Nations, the world population reached 8 billion people towards the end of 2022.
This 8 billion people presents both a challenge and an opportunity for missions. On one hand, the sheer number of people in the world today can be overwhelming and make the task of spreading the gospel seem impossible, but on the other hand, it presents the opportunity to reach more people than ever before with the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. For 2000 years faithful Christians have shared their faith with their next door neighbours, with people in their local communities, and with strangers from the furthest parts of the earth. In the year 1900, it was estimated that nearly 900 million people had little or no Gospel access. And since that time, despite our best efforts, this number has grown. Today, over 3 billion people in more than 7,000 people groups are unreached by the gospel.
“The Great Commission ” is probably one of the most well-known commandments in the Bible. But despite the significance of this and other verses that call Christians to make disciples of the nations, the task of the the Great Commission is yet to be completed. The Bible is clear on the importance of missions. Jesus himself commands his followers in Matthew 28:19-20 to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." The Great Commission, calls all believers to share the Good News of the Gospel with others. The Apostle Paul also emphasised the importance of spreading the gospel in his letters to the early churches. In Romans 10:14-15, he writes, "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent?" This passage highlights the need for believers to actively share their faith with others in order for them to have the opportunity to hear and respond to the message of the Gospel.
In addition to these direct commands and calls to action, the Bible also teaches that all people are created in the image of God and have inherent value and worth. This means that every person, regardless of their ethnicity, gender, age, background or circumstances, is deserving of the opportunity to hear and respond to the message of salvation.
With an estimated 3 billion people who have not heard, the task of sharing the gospel can seem daunting. However, it is important to remember that the Great Commission is not just a commandment that we do as individuals, but rather, it is a call for all of us, the entire body of believers to work together to reach as many people as possible with the message of the Gospel.
I am grateful to many who partner within our church network to fulfil the Great Commission. Many have committed their lives to work in far away places to sharing the Good News of Jesus. They have travelled overseas, learned new languages, and lived in different cultures for the sake of the Gospel. Others minister within our own country to bring the truth of the Gospel to those that desperately need it. I am grateful for those that spend extended time in prayer and uphold our workers before God as they minister in the task of reconciling all things back to God. And I am grateful for those that give sacrificially to support the work of the Gospel both in New Zealand and around the world. Many New Zealand and around the world are generous in their finances to help in God's work.
You may only be one of the 8 billion people that currently living on this earth - but you can make a difference.
Can I encourage you this year to consider how you can best use your life for God's glory. Perhaps this year is the year that God is calling you to minister in a new place, or in a new way. This may be the year that God is calling you to travel overseas to minister in another country, or perhaps He is calling you to reach out to the person who lives next door to you who has travelling from the other side of the world to be your neighbour. Perhaps this is the year that God is calling you to renew your prayer life. To find time in your busy schedule so that you can intercedes on behalf of others and the work that God has called them to. Perhaps this year, God is challenging you to give more generously of the abundance that He is given you, so that it can be used to achieve His purposes.
You may only be one of the 8 billion people that are currently living on this earth, but God is calling you to serve Him in all that you do and to do it for His glory.
Sola Deo Gloria (Glory to God Alone)