As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. 2 Thessalonians 3:1 (NIV).
If you study the spread of Christianity, you see that Paul’s prayer was answered. A word of mouth proposition, Christianity spread all over the known world in a matter of a few years. That’s unprecedented. The faiths of the Norse, Japanese, and indigenous tribes in the Americas never spread out of local areas due to many factors. Already an established faith at the time of Jesus, it took hundreds of years for Buddhism to spread beyond India. It also took many decades for Islam to spread out of Arabia and then it happened only through violence. Yet it took only a handful of years for the message of Jesus Christ to spread from Jerusalem to Assyria, Greece, Asia Minor and all over the Roman Empire. Within only a few decades, it spread into pagan Europe and up into India.
Good news travels fast.
Mark Twain and Winston Churchill were right: A lie gets halfway around the world before truth puts on its boots. Bad news travels fast, too, especially if you’re on the internet. Yet I maintain that good news travels faster. Bad times don’t last but they hurt while they’re here. Yet when good news travels and takes root, it’s there for good. True, we can misplace that good news but when it travels fast, it travels fast while establishing itself.
The good news of the Good News took root wherever it went. Moreover, it took root in the face of adversity. It traveled by word of mouth along ancient roads and trade routes. It sailed the Mediterranean, the Adriatic, and across the Black Sea. It climbed mountains and was spoken across language barriers giving new-found hope to those who would open their hearts. People accustomed to the family of Greek and Roman Gods and the plethora of ancient tribal deities heard, for the first time, that the God of all loved them. That He forgave their sins, and wanted to live through their hearts and hands. Revenge was replaced with hope; hope could finally spring eternal.
And all because people talked with each other. Because people took Paul’s letters and shared them, preserved them, used them as a way to get to know this Jesus. Because God answered Paul’s prayer. Word traveled fast. It still does today. If you don’t believe that, consider that, in less than 4 decades, over 200 million people have come to faith in the dictatorship of Communist China. In the years to come, there could (and probably will be) more Christians there than anywhere else on earth. Good news travels fast and it can put down deep roots even in the harshest soil.
For further reading: 1 Thessalonians 4:1, 1 Thessalonians 1:8, 2 Thessalonians 3:2.
Lord, I praise You for Your word traveling fast!