Some of us will do whatever it takes to get famous. Let’s be real, we all want to be known for something, even I do. 50 Cent’s “Get Rich Or Die Tryin” is not just a thug rapper mantra, it’s an attractive philosophy in a sexy bright red dress pulling on the deepest recesses of our hearts. We just can’t help but stop and look every now and then.
The lust for money, fame and power rears its ugly head in our addictions to pornography, sudden outbursts of rage or revolving door of boyfriends and girlfriends. It’s evident when we are more passionate about remodeling our kitchens or going to Hawaii than advocating for kids being sold as sex slaves or feeding the homeless on our streets. Our need for validation shows whenever we feel bad that our Insta-Tube-Book posts didn’t hit a hundred (or a thousand) likes. Or when our book reviews don’t get 4 stars or when no one reads our blogs or recognizes our degrees or the fact the we can’t help but tweet stupid rhetoric and reactionary statements to our thousands of followers…cough, cough…Trump.
It doesn’t matter if you are a person of faith or consider yourself a deeply committed follower of Jesus, the struggle remains. For leaders in the church it’s even more evident when we put each other down from the pulpit or spend 22 million dollars to expand the parking lot and children’s ministry to make it look like a small theme park. All the while we talk about discipleship, social justice, the marginalized and how to reach unreached people groups in foreign lands who have never heard the Good News.
Humanity is constantly repeating its shortcomings – me included, because I am part of humanity. Like a dog going back to its vomit we are repeating the Tower of Babel syndrome. Remember that? When the human race spoke one common language and were supposed to flourish, and fill the earth with the glory and knowledge of the Creator just like God had commanded them to? Instead they stayed in one place, and with pride and indignation said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower that reaches Heaven. Let’s make ourselves famous so we won’t be scattered here and there across the Earth.” (Genesis 11:4)
God had to break humanity’s pride buy breaking their ability to communicate. In doing so they were forced to go out all over the earth and spread the fame of the One who spanked them into submission by changing their language at the tower of money, fame and power.
Thousands of years later God’s people are still plagued by the same chronic disease. Despite our best efforts many of us who are people of faith have been duped into thinking our money, time and resources are making a difference for God’s Kingdom when all it does is build up our own. We’re just adding more bricks to our existing towers, building our own fame and name when God commands that we spread His Glory to every corner of the earth.
Ninety-nine percent of our evangelism, church planting and missional resources, tools, finances, conferences, books and social media campaigns, are directed towards people and areas that are already reached. Reached refers to people and places that already have established churches and adequate numbers of Christians who can evangelize their own people in their own language without outside assistance.
According to Joshua Project, there are over 16,600 language or people groups on this planet that make up 7 billion people. Around 6,700 of them are still considered unreached. Meaning, these unreached people groups have no cross-cultural Christian workers, no one even trying to tell them, no communities of faith, no retreats or conferences, and few, if any, Bibles. They might know Justin Bieber or Coca-Cola, but they will never see our enormous church parking lots, appreciate our remodeled kitchen tops, study in our Christian colleges, read our Christian books, listen to our motivational podcasts or hear about our Savior…they will never meet our Jesus.
I’m guilty of trying to build my own towers. I want validation just as much as anyone. And that’s why God had to come down into my life and disrupt my Lego building. He brought clarity in my confusion. He made me realize how ridiculous it was that my tower of fame, money and power was being built with Legos.
The unreached don’t need towers. They need people who are willing to be nameless. People willing to do whatever it takes to make Jesus famous. Because, “Some of the most important people in the 21st century are the nameless people. They make Christ visible, not themselves.” -Patrick Fung