NORMAN — During the reign of Kubla Khan — one of the fiercest rulers of all Mongolian dynasties — the story is told that he was visited by the world-traveling Polo brothers. Upon their arrival at Kubla Khan’s palace they shared many gifts with the emperor. They, in turn, were shown the wonders of the East: Such marvels as silk, spices and fine delicacies. During their extended visit, Kubla Khan learned of their belief in God and questioned them at length about this faith.
After learning about God, Kubla Khan requested that upon returning to their country, they send back to Mongolia 100 of the greatest teachers of this unheard-of religion. Kubla Khan said he would learn from these teachers, as would the members of his family, as would all the people in his palace, and ultimately as would all the people dwelling in his entire empire. His desire was they would be known as the greatest country in the world with respect to this God.
Marco Polo and his brother returned to Italy, and forwarded Kubla Khan’s request on to the church leaders of his day. In the course of time, word was sent throughout the church, and a large gathering of church leaders convened. They discussed this request, pondering it, holding conferences on it — debating Kubla Khan’s motives and desires. This gathering ended with little consensus. Finally, after 30 years, it was decided to send three missionaries.
Ephesians 5:15-17 warns us, “Be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.”
Can you imagine what our world would look like today if Kubla Khan’s entire empire had been converted to Christianity? All of modern day Mongolia, China, Russia, most of Eastern Europe, all of India and most of Southeast Asia? To borrow from an old expression of Nero’s day: “The church fiddled while the world burned,”