The world is a very diverse place.
- It is diverse in altitude. The Dead Sea is nearly 1,400 feet below sea level, while Mt. Everest skys nearly 30,000 feet in the air.
- It is diverse in climate. The Atacama Desert of South America receives only 15 milimeters of rain each year, while Mt. Wai’ale’ale on Kaui receives as much as 500 inches of rain each year.
- It is diverse in economics. The GDP per capita of Haiti is only $770, while in Qatar, the same number is $102,768.
- It is diverse in access to health care. Nearly 1 billion people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water, much less a timely MRI of an injured appendage.
- It is diverse in religion. In 2013, there are 21 “major” world religions. Though roughly 2 billion consider themselves Christian, there are roughly 4 billion people who follow a different faith.
We are used to a world of this kind of diversity. In the day and age of Google, wikipedia, and satellite television, we are more aware of the diverse world around us than at any other time in the history of history.
The diversity of climate is marvelous to us. We see the extremes of nature and our jaw drops open at the diversity of our creator.
The diversity of the condition of human life, however, greatly bothers us. For those of us living in the “first world” we vacillate between guilt over what we have and a sense of mission to alleviate suffering worldwide. Organizations like World Vision, Samaritan’s Purse, Compassion, Charity:Water and others tap into this sense of compassion and passion to connect the resources of the developed world with the needs of the developing one. As we reach out to help bring clean water or adequate food to those in need, we do not feel arrogant or unloving. In fact, it is humbling and an act of love to reach out to those in need.
However, when it comes to the religious diversity in the world, we feel differently. In our world today, one of the most controversial things a person of any faith can claim is a statement of exclusivity when it comes to relating to God. For any religion (of the 21) to claim to be the only way a person can have a relationship with God seems quite arrogant and unloving. But is such a sentiment truly wrong?
Last week in our “FAQ” series at Wildwood, Pastor Bruce Hess spoke about how Jesus claims to be the only way to have a relationship with God. In fact, In John 14:6 Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. NO ONE comes to the Father except through Me.” The apparent implication of this statement is that the 4 billion non-Christian people in the world are in great peril. Far more dangerous than just going hungry or dying of dysentery (like those living in physical poverty), people living apart from Christ (the spiritually poor) are in danger of eternal punishment and separation from God.
Knowing the very real danger humanity is in without Him, Jesus commissioned His disciples to go into “all the world” making His disciples. But even with the most aggressive of missionary strategies, today, 2 millennia after Jesus issued His Great Commission, there are still people on the earth who are considered “Unreached” with the Gospel of Jesus Christ . . . there are even places on this planet where people have never heard anything at all about Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, I live in a town of just over 100,000 people with hundreds of churches, K Love, and a Mardel’s Superstore. Given the stakes, this seems unfair. As a Christian thinking about the words of Jesus in John 14:6, I can’t help but ask, “What about the other 4 billion? Does God care about them?”
This Sunday at Wildwood, we are going to look at this question together as I preach a sermon entitled, “What about those who have never heard about Christ?” Like the rest of the questions we are asking in this series, there are answers to these questions. We will be looking into God’s Word together this weekend to explore what those answers are. Please make plans to join us in either our 9:30 or 10:50 service this Sunday at Wildwood. Hope to see you there!