I love study days in the British Library! Over 170 million items are stored there from all over the world. Each year, every book published in the UK is added to the library, meaning that they grow their collection by three million books per annum, requiring a staggering six miles of extra shelf space - now that is the kind of library I would like to make room for!
Sitting within the main atrium, dwarfed by the towering central shelving unit which rises up the middle of the building like a glass covered skyscraper, I was reminded of the words at the end of John's gospel. 'Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.' John 21.25
Is this just a bit of apostolic hyperbole at the end of an action packed gospel account? I don't think so, and even on this scale, the greatest collection of published works in the British nation can't keep up with the works of Jesus. That's because of something else that John writes - 'Truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.' John 14.12
Greater things? All over the planet since the day of Pentecost, believers in Jesus have been living out and doing 'greater works than these'. Ever since the original twelve gathered round Jesus to excitedly tell the stories of their exploits, having been sent out with nothing but his delegated authority and no expense accounts, tales of Jesus work have been spreading and growing.
Through the centuries books have been written of heroes of the faith. However, the countless ordinary believers who have lived and even died for the glory of Christ in their generation are not generally remembered in writing. Just today, the Chinese church has grown to over 100 million believers and counting (the number has probably gone up exponentially in the time it takes to read this blog) - Imagine the combined account of the works of Jesus in 21st century China alone? It's a work that simply cannot be documented this side of the opening of all the books and annals in glory.
Psalm 145.4 puts it well. 'One generation commends your works to another, they tell of your mighty acts.' Our job description is to tell as many of the stories as we can, but also to gasp in wonder at the incalculable task of collating the as yet unfinished works of the infinite and all powerful Saviour through his church. The vast collections at the British Library are the merest hint at the story which will one day be told, unravelling over unending eternity, and into which we have all been written!