Compound Effect By Elijah
Albert Einstein reportedly called compound interest mankind’s “greatest invention.” If at age 20 you invest $13,719.21 at a 10% rate compounded annually then by the retirement age of 65 you would be a millionaire. The way it works, in simple terms, is within the first year you will earn 10% on the $13,719.21, which would roughly be $1,371.92. Not bad, but not quite a millionaire. Here is where compound interest gets interesting. If you’re not familiar with compound interest you may think that you will gain 10% on the initial investment in the second year, but you will actually earn 10% not only on the principal but the interest you gained the previous year. This will continue going on as long as you keep the money in and after 45 years, you will be a millionaire. One investment could potentially assure that your latter years will not be filled with financial hardship. This interesting economic invention spurred my thinking on the way the Church works. Jesus commanded, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you…” (Matthew 28: 19-20). Jesus gave clear direction to the Church to go out and make disciples. This is one of the pinnacle commands in the New Testament and one of the reasons the Church grew to what it is today. This biblical command has resonated in the hearts and minds of clergy over the centuries, dictating the mission of the Church.
So how does discipling individuals turn into the largest religious organization in the world? Let’s get the obvious out of the way. Jesus was, is, and will be the reason the Church is what it is. Jesus said, “…on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18 BSB). Now let’s look at the not so obvious. In the book of John chapter 15, Jesus refers to Himself as the “true vine” and His followers as “branches”. In that same verse He says, “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 NIV). We already established that Jesus is the source and these verses continue to emphasis this fact. However, it goes a step further, we now become part of the equation. You see, the fruit Jesus is talking about, is not just good moral “Christian” living produced by good “Christian” principles, but the obedient adherence to the great commission in Matthew 28. We are the hands and feet of our Lord on earth. We are the ones that yield His glory to others. In Matthew 13, Jesus gives a parable talking about a sower (God) planting seed (the Word). Here is what He says about one of the seeds, “Still other seeds fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.” (Matthew 13:8 NIV). This parable is spoken of the Word being given and the different ways people would receive it. The verse I just quoted referred to the only seed that produced a fruit. When we receive Jesus as our savior and receive the Holy Spirit, the overflow of this should influence those around us. If we are healthy in our walk we should essentially yield “fruit” or a profit from the initial investment. God pours into us as we receive and believe. In return, He wants us to pour out to others. If we are obedient and pour out, we will yield a fruit. Just like when you make interest on money you have invested. Though the first investment didn’t appear to be very significant, with time it yields an enormous return. Let’s look at a hypothetical using the way Jesus did ministry and adding our analysis on compound interest. Say for a moment that Jesus is like a banker. When baptized and given the Holy Spirit, He received the initial investment (now remember this is a hypothetical to make a point, no need to yell “heresy”!). As a good banker, Jesus proceeds to look for ways to grow the investment. He finds 12 men who are not bankers but show potential because they are willing and determined to succeed. He tells them, “I’ll teach you everything about banking and I will make the initial investment after you’re trained. By the way, my method is guaranteed!” He focuses three long years; showing, training, observing, and coaching. Finally, they are all ready and He makes the same investment in them that was given to Him (the Holy Spirit). So from the initial investment, Jesus yielded a 120% return. Wow! It would be safe to say that if the other 12, now bankers, follow the same process will yield the same return. Like compound interest, when reinvested will also make a profit. At that rate and time, each banker will gain 120% return every three years if they follow the same process. This means that in the first three years, as a whole, would yield 144 other bankers ready to invest. If this rate of returned continued, in just fifteen years the initial investment Jesus put in would yield 2,985,984 bankers. After 21 years, it would yield an amazing 429,981,696 bankers. To bring it into perspective, the population of the entire earth during Jesus time was approximately just 300 million. Again a hypothetical, only God knows, but if all the children of the God would’ve given a return on investment, the whole population would have been saved. I know, I know… that is extremely optimistic, but that is the truth and power of the gospel. We know not all will receive; that is why the whole population of the earth didn’t receive the gospel, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort. On the contrary, the Roman Empire eventually made Christianity the main religion of the empire, which was made up of 45 million people, 15% of the world’s population. It consumed the world like a fire so much so that to this day there is an approximate 2.1 billion Christians. If we took into consideration what I just talked about into today’s view of church growth, we would look like fools. A church with only 12 families after three years would look like a failure, but if properly discipled, the following three years would see exponential growth. It shouldn’t be the pastor’s goal to see how many people he can bring through the doors, or feel that the only way the church is being fruitful is by growing in numbers. A pastor should be focused on training the people God has entrusted to him like Jesus did. Invest time, accountability, coaching, trial and error, until they are ready to do the same. If the person is married, then it’s about discipling the husband and wife. If they have kids the whole family gets discipled.
It all starts with that initial investment Jesus made in you! Let the power of God flow through you and go make disciples one person at a time! He is the source of life and as John records the words of Jesus in the book of Revelation, “…I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirst” (Revelation 21:6 NKJV).
VERSE TO MEDITATE ON:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12:24-26 ESV)
Lord, I know that I am not worthy of you, but you so loved me that you gave your son Jesus for me. It isn’t easy by my own ability to fulfill the great commission and fear, at times, overtakes me. Father, please in the name of Jesus take all fear from my heart. Your word say’s, “there is no fear in perfect love, but perfect love cast out fear.” In addition, I just ask that you give me boldness and wisdom to proclaim the good news of salvation through Jesus our Lord. Your word says, that if I ask anything in your name Jesus, it will be done for me because it is your will father to be glorified. So I ask these things in the mighty name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen!