2 Corinthians 10:17 (ESV) … “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Recently, I came across a graphic, four-color folder, published by a group called “The a.d. 2000 and Beyond Movement.” It graphically visualized the dismal failure of the church to reach the bulk of the world’s population.
The heart of the brochure centers around three world maps which depict what is called “The Resistant Belt.” The belt runs all the way from the Atlantic Coast of West Africa to Japan and the Pacific Ocean. It runs also between ten degrees north of the equator to forty degrees north of the equator. The vast rectangle enclosed between these boundaries is called “The 10/40 Window.” It takes in the bulk of the Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist population, as well as that of Communist China. The brochure points out that 97 percent of the world’s population, in the least evangelized areas of the world, live in this 10/40 Window. The three great false religions of the world, and what is left of the communist world, lie within this rectangle. The area includes about one-third of the world’s land mass and nearly two-thirds of the world’s population.
This 10/40 Window takes in much of the Third World, including many of the world’s poorest countries. Moreover the overwhelming majority of the world’s least evangelized cities (with populations of more than a million) are found there.
In spite of all our modern technology and means of mass communications, the missionary program of the church is not keeping pace with the exploding world population, much of which is taking place in the rectangle described above. In its heyday, atheistic communism took the world by storm by concentrating on the big cities and the campuses of the world’s universities. Surely it is time to return to Paul’s missionary method. He resolved to expand his labors and to avoid areas where a viable work was already going on.
He resolves, to exalt his Lord: “But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (10:17). It is a quotation from Jeremiah 9:24. The minority party, at Corinth, led by So-and-so, was boasting that the “mother” church at Jerusalem approved of their doctrines, that they had won some notable converts, and that they had scared Paul off and kept him on the defensive. Paul was not impressed by any of it. He brings them back to the Lord. All his glorying was in the Lord. He would have approved of the hymn:
Nought have I gotten but what I received,
Grace hath bestowed it, since I believed,
Boasting excluded, pride I abase,
I’m only a sinner, saved by grace.
We have nothing to boast about apart from the Lord. Were it not for Him there would be no Christians and there would be no church. It is all of grace and all of God. We can no more convert a soul than we could create a star. We cannot live the Christian life for two seconds apart from the indwelling Christ. If we want to boast, let us boast in the Lord. That was what Paul resolved to do—although, doubtless, if he had wanted to descend to the same level as the opposition, he could have trumpeted his triumphs across some 1,500 successful missionary miles all the way from Antioch to Illyricum (modern Yugoslavia). Before long, he would deem it necessary to do some boasting, in this letter, if only to shut up his critics, but he was the first to admit that it was a silly game.