The expansion of the Christian universe was indeed a clear one. Starting in Jerusalem, the beginning of Christianity’s “Big Bang,” the word surged outward throughout the land of the Jews, then further through the areas of the culturally-related Samaritans, and finally into the lands of the Gentiles – outwards toward the ends of the earth. Obviously, this is to over-simplify the analogy with the expanding physical universe (which appears to be expanding from every point), but the analogy works at the basic level of the concept of expansion. This certainly meshed with Jesus’ earlier teachings of the Kingdom of God growing and spreading throughout the world (see our article on Christ's parable of the mustard seed here).
We may (depending on translation) perhaps see this expansion of the Kingdom in Isaiah 51:16: “I have put My words in your mouth, … in order to plant the heavens, to found the earth, and to say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’" (Holman). If this translation is followed, the expansion of the message of God seems to be viewed in reverse here – from the heavens themselves – back to earth – back to Jerusalem.
What is clear about the expansion of Christianity is that – as in our analogy of the expanding universe – there are two competing forces at work: expansion and entropy. The force that appears to continually expand the universe is countered by the principle of entropy, of the running down of energy and the lapsing into lack of motion, stillness, and eventual energy-death. In the expansion of Christianity we see the same thing. The word has come to many, but not all continue the expansion. Viewed this way, although we may see some of the evils of this world as primary forces holding back and attempting to slow down the spread of Christianity, how much more is the expansion slowed by the millions who know the name of Christ, and accept His teachings, but who are hindered in expanding the Kingdom of God through their own entropy and inaction.
This is part of what we find in the parable of the talents – of the servant who simply buried his part in the kingdom’s expansion in the ground (Matthew 25:24-30). On the other hand, Christ talked about the opposite – the potential for true expansion we all have – in saying: “… whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these…” (John 14:12). While we may get caught up in wondering how we can do greater works than Jesus himself, we miss the point that if we are part of the expansion, then we will be doing work toward the same goals.
So it’s a decision that we, as Christians, must make each day: What will my day be today? Will I be part of the entropy, or part of the expansion?