“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in your sight'” (Luke 10:21 NKJV).
It can sometimes be discouraging to work diligently to proclaim the gospel with little apparent immediate results. Often what results there are may seem to be among the poor and uneducated, or even among the so-called outcasts of society. Paul described the majority of Christians as consisting of “Not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble” (1 Corinthians 1:26). He went on to state, “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are” (1 Corinthians 1:27-28).
In Luke 10 we read the report of the mission of seventy disciples whom Jesus had sent out to the villages of Palestine (Verses 17-20). In that context he thanked God for revealing his mysteries to “babes.” Those babes were the seventy disciples. Some of the twelve apostles who became primary witnesses of the gospel events were described through the eyes of the Jewish leaders as “uneducated and untrained men” (Acts 4:13). That seems to have been the intent of Jesus’ word “babes” in Luke 10, to thank God that his eternal purpose was revealed not to the “enfranchised” of society, but to simple and common people.
In our human wisdom we often aspire to reach the elite of society with the gospel message. Our reasoning is that if we could only convert the political, educational, and societal leaders of each country, surely the church would prosper and much of the nation would respond eagerly.
The biggest problem with that reasoning is that it simply does not happen. Those in power and with great status are among the most difficult to win to Christ. The reasons are obvious, at least some of them. First, there is no sense of need. Life is good, things are working the way they are; why change anything? Second, there is too much to lose. Status and prosperity are affected by religious affiliation (or the lack thereof). In some sectors Christian faith is an embarrassment which hinders progress. In others, it may incur persecution. Those who have already attained high status find it very difficult to surrender (Cf. Matthew 19:16-22).
A final reason why few rich and powerful are converted to Christianity is that the gospel was not designed to appeal to them. Characteristics of the “Haves” of society include pride, ambition, and a strong sense of self-worth. The gospel calls us to humility, sacrifice, and service to others (Matthew 16:24; Philippians 2:3-4). Those who find the gospel appealing are not well equipped to rise to the top of the ladder of wealth and power. Conversely, those at the top of that ladder are not easily persuaded to submit, repent, and obey.
It is true that some leaders of human society have become faithful Christians. Regarding this possibility Jesus stated, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). Experience and observation teaches us, however, that it is the suffering and down-trodden who most eagerly receive God’s message of salvation.
We must not exclusively target or neglect any segment of society as we proclaim the gospel. The promise is given to all, “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). Let us sow the seed wherever we go and trust to God to give us a great harvest (Matthew 13:3-9).