Britain won two gold medals at the Rio Olympics, yesterday and the media have gone bananas. According to the Daily Telegraph, who are not being in the slightest hyperbolic, this is the start of a ‘gold rush‘ – let’s wait and see, shall we?
One of the nice things about these two gold medals is that no one outside of their circle of family, friends and colleagues knew much about Jack Laugher and Chris Mears or Joe Clarke. Over the last few days the media has been awash with stories about famous sportspeople ‘going for gold’, but winning lesser medals or no medals at all. Meanwhile, out of the public eye, these three relative unknowns have done what others could not.
This is not to denigrate the more famous sportspeople. It is a phenomenal achievement simply to get to the Olympics, much less to finish well in an event. However, it is clear that fame and public recognition are no guarantees of success.
Which brings me back to Christian mission…
There are lots of famous Christians, these are the ones who are invited to speak at big conferences, write best selling books and attract lots of followers on Twitter. For the most part, they have become famous because they are good at what they do; they are excellent speakers and write good books. They are faithful servants of their master.
However, we would be wrong to equate fame and public recognition with huge impact for the Kingdom of God. Most of the people who are really making a difference for Christ in this world are unknown to us. They are faithful pastors, leading their churches, making disciples and seeing a new generation grow up in God’s service, they wander from village to village in Asia, planting churches and seeing thousands of people come to faith, they serve the poor and oppressed in the world’s megacities, they witness to Christ in places where simply being a Christian is a criminal offence and they lay down their lives in his service without ever speaking at a major conference.
The Christian faith is growing around the world and for the most part, this is due to God working through people that you’ve never heard of.