How many is “whoever”


Celebrating God's rescue plan

by Connie Faber

I come to this Christmas season marveling at the scope of God’s rescue plan for mankind. The apostle John uses the word “whoever” to describe how many people are invited to believe in God’s Son and to gain a whole and lasting life (John 3:16). The English hymn writer Isaac Watts celebrates God’s intention when he writes, “Joy to the world! The Lord is come; let earth receive her king; let every heart prepare him room.” God extends his love to everyone on the earth, and right now that means about 7 billion people.

That’s a lot of human beings, and yet the number of people God has in mind is much bigger than the current world population figure. God invites every heart in every age to accept his invitation. And that is a number that I can’t even begin to imagine—but last month I tried. My husband, our three children and I were in Washington, D.C., in early November. For five days we encountered people, people and more people. There were the folks we rubbed shoulders with as we waited in airports, dined in restaurants, rode subway trains and walked the sidewalks and hallways of landmark buildings. We also met up with people from the past who were featured in the various museums, memorials, monuments and government buildings.

So one evening I imagined of all these people—both contemporary and historical—as if they were hub cities on a map. I visualized them with lines emanating from the outline of their bodies showing their connection to other people in terms of families, schools, churches, workplaces, neighborhoods, friends, hobbies and community organizations. So, for example, the young woman on crutches who stood with her college soccer team in front of the Lincoln Memorial for a group picture is linked to her teammates, coaches and the doctors who treated her injury and also to her parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, professors, roommates, summer employer and co-workers, a boyfriend, the people in her church, the grade school kids on the recreation soccer team she coaches—I had fun imaging all of the possible associations. Meanwhile, Abraham Lincoln is connected to his wife and four sons, the men and women who worked in the White House when he lived there, his cabinet members, the generals he appointed, the countless soldiers who fought in the Civil War, the slaves he set free and the man who assassinated him.

While the number of people I came across that week as I followed this train of thought is endless, I know that God, in all of his mystery, knows each man, woman and child by name. I also know that our Heavenly Father desires that everyone from every era will know the joy and peace that comes from living in step with him. That’s what I’m celebrating this Christmas.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here