I've been thinking about the aforementioned Christian cliche, about "just one person" becoming a Jesus-follower, and whether that really makes it all worth it.
I think I've already mentioned that when I was very little I wanted to be a missionary. Because I went to Christian schools my whole life, there was a dearth of obvious heathen to evangelise early on. I'm not sure, but I suppose that's one reason I used to write down the names of the actors and actresses in the credits of movies and pray for their salvation. (Not regularly. My intentions were always much loftier than my actual practice, but I really did do this. Another reason might have been to justify praying for the one or two actors per film on whom I had crushes.)
I tell you this, not to highlight what a freakish adolescent I was (though it does that, I realise), but to reinforce the idea that this sense of wanting other people to get to know Jesus has been with me pretty much since I found out that not everybody did. It's been a long time since I've had a really specific sense of calling, but I do feel like getting to love Jesus and trying to share His love with others so that maybe they'll learn to love Him, too, is at the core of who I am and what I've been called to do.
So here's what I'm mulling over right now. Is the "one person" assertion really true? Do I really not mind if I spend my whole life praying and crying over people and only one of them acknowledges Jesus as the Son of God who has everything to do with his or her life? I think I might mind. I think I might feel like a failure. I don't really think I'm the only one who, under similar circumstances, might feel that way, either.
But how does God feel about it? I live in the United States, and everybody knows that here, we succeed-by-numbers. And let's face it. Nobody says that "one person" thing about witnessing to just one person. As far as I can see, we only say it when we're putting on some big event (or, if we're kind of skittish about talking to crowds, we've been trying to tell a whole lot of people about Jesus over a period of time) and we're trying to make excuses for ourselves, or even God, about why we had such a measly response. There's got to be a pretty big pool to draw from, and then, if only one person becomes a Christian after all that, well, it wasn't our fault, and God knows what He's doing, so clearly that one person was worth it. (But seriously? we think, it would be nice if the financial and/or emotional outlay wasn't so extensive, because worth it? Just barely.)
Is that how God sees it? The "right" answer is, "No, of course not," but you have to wonder. If God doesn't actually want any to be apart from Him, how can "just one person's" salvation really be acceptable?
On the other hand, if there's a heavenly party over "one sinner who repents"--well, that must mean something. I believe God wants all people to relate to Him in love. But I also believe He wants individuals to relate to Him--not just "all people." We're each "just one person," in the end. Just one person getting to know Jesus, and just one person trying to introduce Him to other people.
So here's what else I've been wondering about this: Does the Great Commission ever work backwards? Instead of spreading out to the ends of the earth, what if it narrows to a point? Say you know you've been called to share Jesus' love with the world. And you start out far from home as a missionary to a ton of people from all the ends of the earth. And then you return to your home country, though not a part you've really known before. And then you return to your home state. Is it possible for it to work like this? Is it okay? Is it worth it, when the pool of potential "converts" gets smaller and smaller? Is there even a chance that you might, sometime, be called primarily to share Jesus' love specifically and intentionally with "just one person"?