Monday, February 21, 2011

We are all Missionaries

We are all missionaries

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 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, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Mat. 28:16-20 (ESV)

While this command is given directly to the remaining 11 disciples, it is commonly understood to be of general application. That is, that the commands in verses 19 and 20 apply to all Christians. We all have a duty to advance the faith, to help spread the Word. In that sense we are all missionaries.

I know my concept of what a missionary looks like has changed over the years. It started out as a picture of people hacking through jungles to reach remote tribes. Then I found a friend of mine from High School, Steve Kaptain, is a missionary in Nepal with Operation Mobilisation and that really changed my view. Here was a guy I knew personally, went to church and school with, a missionary, and no jungle either. My girlfriend's brother, Jason Boyle is also a missionary, he's in Mexico with his wife doing church planting. Reading through the “Opportunities” section of OM's website also gave me some insight into the various roles a missionary can fill. Reading blogs has also opened my eyes to various people, places and work that can be done (Laura's blog, and Johnny and Kate's blog) Not everyone is out planting churches in the third world, there are lots of jobs all around the world that need to be done that are either directly evangelizing or supporting those who do.

There is also, unfortunately, the image of missionaries who have used force or coercion to bring about conversions. The missionaries who accompanied the colonizing forces of Europe into Africa and the New World come to mind as historical examples. There are also modern day examples of 'so called' missionaries who given aid (food, medical) to people in dire need but conditioned the aid on conversion, creating what are known as 'Rice Christians.' While I'm sure their numbers looked impressive when reporting, this is just wrong, and I would go so far as to say, anti-Christian (see Luke 6:30). Regardless of the fact that people have done things wrong in the name of spreading the faith, the commission still stands.

I often hear said, “Lord, use me as your servant... just don't send me to Africa”, or something to that effect. Personally, I have no problem going to Africa, or any place else for that matter. But not everyone feels that calling. If you don't feel called are you being a bad Christian? No, of course not. Spreading God's Word is not a 'one size fits all' mission. There is a whole spectrum of things we can do to spread His Word.

What can we do? Some ideas:

  1. Live our lives as a testimony to those we live and work with.
  2. Support those in active ministry through prayer, funding, or other material support.
    1. If you can't fund them yourself, you can help them help themselves raise funds... invite them to speak at your church, help publicize their mission...
  3. Share your faith with others publicly. (face to face, through outreach, volunteering, short term missions, on Facebook or Twitter, share a blog :) [took me years to share this], and many other ways)
  4. Get out of your comfort zone and give God the opportunity to show you what He can do through you.

There is nothing easy about any of these things. But then, the Bible never says it will be easy.

1 comment:

  1. I remember the biggest thing I learned during my internship in 2002, when I spent 10 weeks in Mexico City with a missionary family, was that what you have listed as #1 above was maybe the biggest part of missionary life. There's more to it, obviously- preaching, discipling, etc. all in a cross-cultural setting- but living our lives as Christians, every second of every day, in the midst of the people we're ministering to- that's the crux of missionary life. And so, as you rightly point out, that's completely applicable to every Christian, no matter where you live.