In 2020, we were the church on our heels. A global pandemic shut down much of our world including public services for Easter. But the church has been on the move since it was birthed; it will continue to be on the move until God makes all things new.
I want to remind us of the remarkable and unique spread of Christianity around our world. In the West in particular we can easily lose sight of this with all the issues facing the church these days.
It’s easy to forget the remarkable spread of Christianity over the past two millennia across the globe from a geographical perspective. We can read the New Testament with eyes and ears that are largely ignorant to the places Luke mentions in Acts or Paul writes about in the prison Epistles.
Most Christians know of Jerusalem — the place where Jesus was crucified and risen. The geographical center of the Christian faith was clearly, early on, in and around Israel.
But while the Ancient Near East was the birthplace of our faith, it didn’t just stay there. By God’s grace, the gospel began to spread all around the world. We read about the Ethiopian eunuch who first heard the gospel message from Philip. Some disciples went to Asia Minor, Thomas went as far as India, Paul tried to get to Spain, and onward the gospel spread. Places like Cyprus, Caesarea, Damascus, Athens, Rome, and Ephesus are mentioned throughout the book of Acts as Paul and his followers embark on four long missionary journeys.
The gospel has been advancing for centuries.
The gospel has been advancing and spreading for centuries. The Holy Spirit has compelled believers everywhere to share the message of Christ crucified and risen in places both near and far. As demonstrated by Paul and Christ’s own disciples, this was to include continents and people groups far from the place where the Christian faith was first founded.