The 42% – Part One: Delusion

Who are the “42%”.

Forty-two percent of the people on this planet have not heard the Name of Jesus. That means they have no reason to hope and no chance to be sure of eternal life. Given that most of them live in very harsh conditions they face a reasonably miserable temporal existence with no hope of ever-lasting life. It simply can never get better.

Relieving the plight of the 42% would be easy if we understood the word “go” is a verb which requires movement. People feel called to “raise awareness” and wear rubber arm bands which alleviates guilt and makes the wearer feel satisfied. The plight of the lost remains unchanged. Why?

Why the Lost Remain Lost

The plight of the 42% has many causes. One cause is the convenience of self-delusion.

When I was a new Christian, I heard preachers say that with “radio and TV beaming the gospel to the ends of the earth, the great commission has been fulfilled”. In 1988 I moved to the ends of the earth and life looked nothing at all like it sounded when the televangelist spoke. One night I saw an older woman silhouetted against the setting sun. She held 40 pounds of food and firewood on her head and turned to walk another hour home. It struck me that it made no difference to her that she was surrounded by unseen radio waves. They were beaming words of hope she desperately needed to hear, in a language she did not understand, to a radio she did not own. Those who believed the gospel had gone to the ends of the earth desired to reach the four corners of the globe from the comfort of home. The people who inhabit the four corners of the earth require a messenger with flesh and blood to come and be with them and speak a language they can understand. They need the gospel presented to them, the same way it was presented to us. The Son of God had to leave His throne in heaven to live among humans and speak our language and share His life with ours. Any message can be sent by radio. The gospel message can only be lived out in person. To believe the 42% who have not heard can be reached without the same leaving and living and sacrifice that was required of the Son of God, is nothing more than self-delusion.

Technology Marginalizes Those in Need

With the explosion of technology has come the false impression that the world is a “global village”. If you had enough to eat today, have secure housing, indoor plumbing, and constant power, you are not living in the same village as 42% of the world’s population.  It is a great inconvenience to us that most of the 42% live in inconvenient places. They are off the grid, live simply and their lives focus on survival. Travel is difficult. Supplies are short. Sacrifice is required. One of the reasons the 42% are unreached is it requires sacrifice to reach them. We cannot rely solely on the methods we would most readily like to employ. There is no technology available that makes them easier to reach with the gospel. The gospel is a relational message and it requires physical presence among those who need to hear. Technology is a tool but it must travel with real people to dark places if it is to bring light. This is a message that must travel with a human messenger or it is not the gospel. The gospel is the story of Love Incarnate. It still requires flesh and blood to bring the message. There is no shortcut. There is a only a lack of courage and self-sacrifice to live a life without shortcuts.

Technology is part of the age in which we live. God will bless and use it as He has the tools of every other age if it is used in keeping with the pattern and commandment He gave us. The commandment He gave us was, “Go”.

Pack your computer, your camera and your phone. Bring a paperback copy of scripture for those nights by camp fires. Pack up your knowledge, faith and love. Love cannot be broadcast. It must be lived out side by side with those for whom He died. He did it for us. Do they deserve less?

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