Thursday, February 7, 2013

200 years

A few days ago in staff meeting at work, someone shared the most amazing video with us. It was amazing because 1) it was a wonderfully clear way to share some very complicated statistical data, and 2) it showed how the wealth and health of the world has changed over time.

Here it is.  You may want to watch it more than once to fully appreciate it. I know I did.

A few things stood out to me as I watched the data move:
  • The industrial revolution brought unprecedented opportunity to be healthy and have more resources. When Jesus talked about the wealthy, it was likely a select few. Today - especially compared to then - it is whole countries. Countries where the poor are still way better off than the average person in Third World countries. And way better off than almost anyone was 200 years ago.
  • The technological revolution has created unprecedented opportunity for those of us who have been blessed to share the blessing. And - despite the greed of so many - it has happened! Since the advent of modern communication tools (telephone, radio, TV, computers, internet) and travel methods (planes, trains, and automobiles), the poorer countries have made progress you never would have expected. Especially in health, less so in wealth.
  • But it's still not enough. While the countries to the bottom left are way better off than they were just a few years ago, they are still lagging far behind.
  • I wish I were as optimistic as the guy in the video. But the world is not just going to just naturally converge to the healthy-wealthy corner. 
No, it won't just happen on its own. But I am encouraged. I am encouraged by what I see in the church. You see, it is our responsibility to take care of the oppressed. Jesus proclaimed that as his mission when he started out (Luke 4:16-21), and commanded his followers to care for "the least of these" (Matthew 25:31-46). All through the Scriptures, it tells us to care for the widow, the orphan, the poor, and the oppressed. We can't sit around waiting for governments to do it. It's our job.

And I think it's happening. There is a generation rising that I believe is serious about following Jesus, about executing the reign of the kingdom of God. I can't tell you how many people I know now - especially young people - who are spending time visiting the parts of the world that lag. And not just visiting - finding ways not just to tell them the good news that Jesus loves them, but also to show it by meeting their needs, starting with the most basic physical necessities. Feeding them, clothing them, treating their diseases...and teaching them how to do these things for themselves.

Uganda. Kenya. China. Ethiopia. Rwanda. Ukraine. Waves and waves of Christ-followers spreading the kingdom by going, being, and loving. Advocating the end of slavery at at every turn. Being the hands and feet of the Messiah throughout the world.

Make no mistake, it will all be made right when the King returns. But until then, it's in our hands. We have such marvelous tools. I pray that I will listen when God calls me to do my part. And that he will send waves of workers into the field. Like you maybe.

What an amazing picture this video paints. You can see God working through history as the data points move. I can't wait to see what he does next.

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