When we listen to the news regarding the economy, international politics and religious trends in America, we could easily conclude that the world is spiraling out of control. The sudden fall of Afghanistan sent chills around the globe. The world is weary of the COVID-19 pandemic that refuses to release its grip.
Christendom seems to be on the skids. Church buildings that once housed vibrant congregations stand empty. Some have been turned into offices, lofts or restaurants. Many of the great cathedrals of Europe now operate as museums.
In a similar day to our own, Habakkuk posed the following questions to God, “Why do you tolerate wrongdoing? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds. Therefore the law is paralyzed, and justice never prevails.”
It seemed to Habakkuk that God had abandoned the world to its own destructive devices.
God’s answer to him was quick and clear: “Look at the nations and watch — and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told.” (Habakkuk 1:5).
Like Habakkuk, maybe we are missing something.
The Bible teaches that God is active in human history. The Old Testament carefully charts God’s hand at work among the Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians, Greeks and Romans. The New Testament concludes Scripture by introducing Jesus in the “fullness of time.” It would be illogical to conclude that God turned his back on human events and walked away 2,000 years ago.
While Christianity has waned in the West, it has exploded in South America, Africa and Asia.
Only 35% of the world’s Christians live in the United States and Europe.
In some regions of South America, the number of Christians has grown at more than twice the rate of the population. South Korea has become the second largest mission-sending nation in the world. Despite persecution in China, the number of Christians has grown from 22 million to 38 million in the last decade. The number of Christians in Africa skyrocketed from 10 million in 1900 to more than 300 million in 2000. The Pew Forum projects the African continent will be home to more than 1 billion Christians by 2050.
Christianity is growing faster than at any time in history. It simply is not happening in America or Europe.
And Christianity outside the West does not look like the Christendom structures of the Reformation. They are not building cathedrals. They are becoming passionate followers of Christ. When people become passionate followers of Jesus they become more honest, generous and industrious, the very elements that create an economic, political and spiritual future.
Perhaps, if we look at the nations and watch, we will stand in utter amazement at what God is doing in our day.