Challenges and Opportunities of Globalization
Dr. Valson Abraham
Question: What is the truest definition of globalization?
Answer: Princess Diana’s death.
Answer: An English princess with an Egyptian boyfriend crashes in a French tunnel riding a German car with a Dutch engine, driven by a Belgian, drunk with Scottish whiskey, followed closely by Italian paparazzi on Japanese motorcycles, treated by an American doctor, using Brazilian medicines. This article comes to you from a computer used by an Indian, by way of American Bill Gate’s technology with Taiwanese computer chips, and a Korean monitor, assembled by Bangladeshi workers in a Singapore plant, transported by Indian truck drivers, hijacked by Indonesians and unloaded by Sicilian longshoremen.
In 2010, I was a delegate at the Lausanne Conference in Capetown, South Africa. That gathering of mission-minded Christians from around the world reflects the growing realization that the Great Commission requires global cooperation with other believers.
The Lausanne Conference is just one example of the growing influence of “globalization.” A conference speaker, Dr. Os Guinness, defined globalization as “a process by which human interconnectedness has reached global proportions.” Our true-life illustration above certainly demonstrates the dramatic truth of Dr. Guinness’ definition in today’s world.
Globalization promises to revolutionize the human condition in a permanent and fundamental way as the invention of the wheel, printing press and automobile. Globalization is here to stay, and as Christians, we better come to terms with it.
This process of globalization is driven by revolutionary developments of information technology. Through IT, we can create, multiply, expand, intensify and accelerate more human activities with more people than ever before.
This growing phenomenon has implications for all of us, and especially for the spread of the gospel to the remaining peoples of the world who do not yet have the Good News.
As Dr. Guinness told us at the Lausanne Conference, “Globalization is the greatest challenge and opportunity for the church since the apostles.”
The big question: Are we really ready for the challenges of globalization? From my own observation, I think I am safe in saying that we are not ready or even qualified for the task. At the same time, I believe that as believers, we have an unprecedented opportunity to trust God in ways we never have trusted Him before, to see Him act in ways we have never seen Him act before.
If the people of Christ are truly to make globalization work for us, we must recover the gospel. In too many churches, tragically, the gospel is not fashionable. Even evangelical churches are anemic and weak in preaching the gospel. We lack solid, systematic thinkers, writers, artists. Even our pulpits are filled by preachers who too often don’t believe what they preach. It’s not politically correct to say this, but too many pastors today remain an “unreached people group.”
Today, we deal with two false extremes. There is too great a tendency to make the gospel “friendly,” to make people “feel good” at the expense of talking about sin. At the other extreme, too many evangelical Christians have a tendency to be known for their negativism and condemning, unloving spirit. This keeps guilt-ridden people from discovering the saving grace and love of God in Jesus Christ.
Globalization has convinced many people that all religions are basically the same. Too many churches make a big effort to “blend in” for fear that they will be rejected. But the gospel is unique and cannot “blend in.” We must all re-capture the wonder of the gospel before the rest of the world will capture it. We must show how it contrasts with everything else, not how it “blends in.”
You and I are part of this new global mentality, and we are all affected and infiltrated by it in subtle ways. We all need a work of God to insure that we are not conformed to this mentality but transformed by the renewing of our minds through the Spirit of God.
Globalization has caught much of the church by surprise, but it never caught God by surprise. He knew it was coming, even 2,000 years ago, when He gave His Great Commission to His disciples. He knew about globalization long before anyone thought about it. As we face the challenges of globalization, let us learn from Jesus and His first disciples. From the beginning, Jesus knew that He was giving His original twelve disciples a task way too big for them to handle alone. They were simple men in a world too complex and big for them. They weren’t ready. They were unqualified for the job He assigned to them.
Yet look what God has done through those twelve unqualified men and those who came after them! How did these unqualified men do so well? Perhaps most importantly, they recognized from sad experience how unqualified they really were. Scripture tells us that before they set out on their mission, they waited upon God in the Upper Room until the Holy Spirit came upon them. Only with the coming of the Holy Spirit did they begin to take the gospel “to Jerusalem, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world.”
That simple yet profound experience of the disciples must become our own. The God of the first century is the God of the twenty-first century. We must recognize our own inadequacy for the challenge of globalization. We must recognize our own slowness of heart, our lack of faith, our tendency to let the standards of the world influence us. We must come to terms with the sins that so easily beset us and recognize our constant failures. Indeed, the whole church is in dire need of a spiritual renewal such as never before.
As believers in the gospel, we must have our own Upper Room experience. Only with a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit will we make the challenges and opportunities of globalization count for Christ so that the gospel is preached to all peoples and touches people in every facet of their lives. Are you waiting on God for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, for yourself and for your church and for all of India’s churches? “Call unto Me,” the Lord tells us through Jeremiah, “and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.”
Those “great and mighty things” include seeing and incorporating globalization as a tool for completing the Kingdom of God.
Father God, with you, all our challenges are your opportunities to make your gospel known to a world that lives in darkness and bondage. Help me to see globalization with your eyes. Give me a fresh outpouring of your Holy Spirit that I may use this new opportunity to speed the fulfillment of your Great Commission throughout India and the world. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.