“The christian by identity is a missionary.” – Dr. Eric Mason. Missions is not a trip we go on; it’s not what we do, it’s who we are. Everyone has heard about missions and missionaries – those who go into the bush and preach to head hunters. It’s funny but I can’t laugh because that misconception has crippled many christians from being satisfied with God. The call to missions is not some highfalutin, super spiritual, voice in the desert experience we receive when we are caught up to the third heaven (though that has happened to some). Anyone with a slight level of literacy and comprehension can receive this call. It’s that simple. The call is for each of us, His elect. It is a commission, a commandment even.
We see missions as early as Genesis 3:15 when God brought the good news after man had sinned. And from that day until now the message of Christ has been proclaimed. The greek word εὐαγγέλιον (euangelion) is the root of evangelism – ‘εὐ’ meaning ‘good’ and ‘angelos’ meaning ‘messenger’. It’s funny (and I do laugh) that the word “eulogy” is quite similar to “evangelism”. In both we say good things. In both we speak to the dead. The only difference is that in one, the dead can live. What if we saw it like that? As christians we love to say that we die to ourselves. If so, then our lives are daily funerals and what is one thing that always happens at funerals? The eulogy. So everyday we are to proclaim the good news among the dead – spiritually dead that is, for those who have stopped respiring know nothing. The sad thing is that when we hear ‘missions’ (and ‘calling’) is not only about being a pastor and preaching to bush people we give a sigh of relief, thinking that we can save our lives and still get the reward. But we can’t. Whoever tries to save his life will lose it. But whoever loses his life for my sake will save it (Luke 9:24). And those are Jesus’ words.
We can’t escape losing our lives for the gospel. It is true that missions is not just about preaching to bush people. Consider physical death, how many people have stayed in their home towns and have been killed by their people, even their families? How many people have become gravely ill due to their concern for souls in their home town? Missions is not about death (it never was). Missions is about life. From Genesis 3, the message of life, salvation, healing and restoration has been preached. The message is about love. The message is about God.
Jesus told his disciples (and he is still telling them) that “you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). He did not say “They will be my witnesses”. Who will be God’s witnesses? You will! I was having a conversation with my brother one day about missions. At the beginning of my second year of university I saw school as my mission field. I did my work well, lived a godly life and when the time came, I spoke about God and Christ to anyone who asked (or didn’t). But no one seemed to have been falling on their faces begging for mercy like you see on tv and while looking back on the semester I felt like a failure. Instead of regrouping and really looking at my semester I shut down the car and ran on its momentum for four months. Of course that failed, both in this realm and the other. As the conversation went on, my brother asked “what would you do in Africa?” I scrambled to find an answer. It was like my brain was about to say “We apologize for the break in communication as we are experiencing technical difficulties” when I said “I don’t know. Probably the same thing I’m doing now – work by God’s standard and when the time comes preach the gospel.” I ask you, what are you going to the bush people to do? By all means if God told you to go, then go. But think about it. What are you going to the bush people to do? And are you doing something similar as you wait? The corporate needs you like the hood needs us to tell the truth that the world needs Jesus!
Since then we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. We are Christ’s ambassadors. We do not represent for results; we do not obey for a reward. But Christ’s love compels us as God is making his appeal through us.
If we look at God’s example in Genesis 3:9-24, John 1:14, Romans 5:6-12, and 1 John 4:19 we see a great similarity. God came to us. God initiated contact. God reached out to us. As C.S. Lewis wrote in the Silver Chair, “You would not have called to me if I had not been calling to you.” And we, the missionaries, are to do the same. The storm has come and many are washed up on the beach dying. Everywhere we go we see people who do not know God. We can’t save them all (and we were never asked to) but we can save this one. And God can use this one to save that one. And even if one heart was all that was gained from all it cost we should still be people with a reason to willingly offer our lives.
God is making his appeal to the world through us. It is not my mission, not my message and not my method. It is God using what he created (me and you). We are called to lose our lives, not waste them or throw them away. We are servants of Christ; one plants, another waters but God makes things grow. We receive our reward but we do not live for it. Missions is not what we do, it is who we are. Now these three remain: go, send or disobey.