Do you need some good news?
You won't find it here: "When the final accounting is done, 2014 will have been the most lethal year for global terrorism in the 45 years such data has been compiled." So said Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Or here: more than 180 people have been killed by avalanches in north Afghanistan. Or here: the number of Christians abducted by the Islamic State in northeastern Syria has now risen to 220.
I doubt you'll want to share any of these news reports with friends. But if you're like me, you'll watch this 40-second video and probably forward it to others. It simply shows a baby laughing. And laughing, and laughing. You can't help smiling. Or feeling better about your day.
When we have a great experience, we want to share the news. When we see a good movie, read an engrossing novel, or hear a moving song, we tell other people. "Word of mouth" is not only the best advertising—it's a fact of human nature.
Let's consider that fact in spiritual context. The International Bulletin of Missionary Research has released its annual "Status of Global Christianity." The report states that 89 percent of the planet's population are religious believers, contrasted with 1.8 percent who are professed atheists and another 9 percent who are agnostics. Charismatic and Pentecostal Christianity has grown from 981,000 in 1900 to 643,661,000 today, constituting the fastest growing phenomenon in world religious history.
But here's the bad news: only 14 percent of the world's non-Christians know a Christian. (Tweet this) "How are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?" (Romans 10:14).
When Andrew became a follower of Jesus, "he first found his own brother Simon and said to him, 'We have found the Messiah' (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus" (John 1:41-42). We have Andrew to thank for Simon Peter, the leader of the apostolic band, author of two New Testament books, and world-changing apostle of the Lord Jesus. Who was your last Simon? Who will be your next?
Here's my favorite definition of evangelism: one beggar helping another beggar find bread. (Tweet this) As the bumper sticker says, Christians aren't perfect—just forgiven. We have received the grace everyone needs. It is our privilege to give what has been given to us.
When I pastored in Atlanta, our church office received an unusual number of homeless people seeking assistance. We were glad to do what we could, but wondered why so many came to us. One man asking for help explained: if a church helps a homeless person, he or she marks its property in such a way that others know they might find help there as well. We had been so "marked."
Publication date: February 27, 2015
Do you want to live a life in whole-hearted pursuit of loving God and others?
Read today's First15 at www.first15.org.