“As he passed by, he saw a man” (John 9:1 ESV).
It is not difficult to recruit people to go on a mission trip to Nepal. Everyone knows about “The Rooftop of the World,” the home of much of the Himalaya Mountains. We are all fascinated by mountains, and that fascination increases exponentially when Mt. Everest and other Himalayan peaks enter into the discussion. The scenery is awesome, the sense of adventure overwhelming. One returns from a visit to such places with a tremendous feeling of accomplishment.
But there is much more to this remote, densely populated nation than magnificent vistas. More than 30 million people inhabit its approximately 57,000 square miles (roughly 1/3 larger than the state of Tennessee). More than 90% of the population claim Hinduism or Buddhism as their religious faith. Taken together, these constitute the world’s largest current polytheistic and idolatrous religion. In the New Testament Paul spoke of his joy over those who turned “from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). He regarded them as having escaped bondage to enjoy freedom in Christ Jesus.
The great commission given by Jesus to his followers challenges us to focus our vision. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Some scholars suggest a proper application of Jesus’ words is “As you go …” That suggests that evangelism is not only a purposed activity requiring a special itinerary, but something that Christians are alert to do wherever they are and whenever opportunities arise.
As Jesus traveled through Galilee, Samaria, and Judea he constantly met and interacted with people. On one occasion his attention was directed to something inanimate: “his disciples came to point out to him the buildings of the temple” (Matthew 24:1). He responded to the effect that these were only temporary. “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down” (Matthew 24:2). It was barely more than forty years later that the Roman army fulfilled his prophecy in the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70 A.D. Jesus’ attention was almost exclusively upon people, whom he came “to seek and to save” (Luke 19:10).
Buildings erected by humans, beautiful forests, even immense mountain ranges are all material and destructible. God promises, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed” (2 Peter 3:10).
All that God has created will be done away with except for human souls. “So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:42). The mountains we treasure will not last. The people we teach and bring to faith will live eternally. Let us look at more than beautiful scenery – let us see those who are longing for truth and help them to know and believe in Jesus.