Here is an edited version of a talk I gave recently at London Korean Church in Kingston.
If you’re like me, when you think of missionaries as crazy Christians. They go off to exotic places then come back to tell wild stories and show pictures of guys with bones in their noses.
Somehow over the years, we Christians have fallen into the trap of thinking that special Christians are the ones who need to go on a mission trip. Missions is for a few Christians and then the rest of us “normal” Christians support them.
Thankfully – I’ve grown in my understanding of mission and I know now that actually the mission is not for any super-Christian – the mission is God’s. He is the one who is on a mission. God is the mover and shaker. And he calls all of us to join him in what he’s doing.
But you say – the bible is clear:
Matthew 28: “Go and make disciples of all nations…”
Romans 10 – “And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?”
And this is true – some people need to be sent out. But if we ONLY talk about missions like this, then we tend to move it over into one category of the Christian life. We will then miss the major biblical thrust of what God is doing in the world and his calling for ALL of us who follow Jesus.
If we do not see the big picture of God’s salvation when we read the Bible then we are not reading it right. If we think Christianity is only about how each of us individually can get to heaven through faith in Jesus, then we’re not reading it right. If we think that the purpose of the Holy Spirit is to help us be a better person – less lying, cheating and stealing, then we’re not reading it right. There’s more to the story!
The terms “creation, fall, redemption and restoration” have been used as the overarching themes of scripture.
1. Creation – Gen 1 and 2 – God creates this beautiful world out of nothing
2. Fall – Gen 3 – Humans rebelled against the good rule of God and brought the curse down upon all creation
3. Redemption – Gen 3:15 – We have the first hint of a promise that this mess of a world is not done for – God is at work bringing redemption to our world
4. Restoration – At the very end of Revelation we see a vision of the new city of God – God will make all things new – no more tears, no more death, no more pain
The mission of God is moving His people from Gen 3 to Revelation 21. How is He going to do this?
The first 11 Chapters of the bible are universal in scope – creation and fall, Cain and Able, Noah and the flood, the list of nations and the tower of Babel.
THEN suddenly the whole story narrows down to one man, Abraham, who is called to go to a new land and into a new future that only God knows. So has God given up on the nations? NO! Abraham is singled out so that he can be a blessing to those scattered nations. All the families of the earth will be blessed in him (Gen 12:2-3).
We then see in the first books of the Bible, God forming the nation of Israel.
Ex 19 says that God owns all the nations, but he calls Israel his treasured possession. God saves Israel powerfully in Egypt – why? So that all the nations might know who He is – the one true God of the whole earth. Israel crosses Jordan “so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty”(Josh 4:24). King Hezekiah prays for deliverance from the Assyrian army “so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, Lord, are God alone. (1 Kg 19:19)
God wants to bring His blessing to the whole world, to reveal what kind of God He is to the nations of the world, and to bring His righteous and good rule to the whole earth. And God’s mission runs straight through the cross and the person of Jesus, the faithful son of Abraham, the one true Israelite, the heir of David’s throne.
Without this background, what we do as the church, Jesus’ body on earth, is incomprehensible. These are the ROOTS of the vine we’ve been grafted into IN CHRIST. The Bible places us in the story by leaving the task incomplete. The New Testament ends with most of the world still waiting to hear about Jesus, the Roman empire still mercilessly rampaging around, pagan worship still dominating, and injustice, poverty and oppression running riot.
At the end of Acts, we see Paul in a Roman prison and yet preaching boldly without hindrance. There is a sense that the story is NOT over – like the next chapter is yet to be written. God’s people are writing the next chapters of Acts (just figuratively!!) as they bring the gospel in word and deed to the world.
What is going to look like for you? I don’t know – I do know that God calls all of his people into HIS mission. You can’t “just get saved” and then wait for Jesus to return to take you to heaven. In every way in which the fall has wrecked this planet of ours, God is bringing renewal. Where there are tears, pain and brokenness – God is bringing healing. And He calls each of us to get on board with His mission.
I am a missionary – you are a missionary if you are a follower of Jesus. Let’s redefine what a missionary is – some of us get paid to go somewhere beyond where we were born, but the reality is we are all on a mission. No matter where you are – you can love on people, you can share Jesus with friends over a meal, you can help widows and immigrants in practical ways, you can use your future training as a doctor or accountant or an engineer to make life better for people who are hurting.
Repent of your selfishness. Repent of trying to make God get on board with YOUR agenda. Repent of putting your faith into a box which only gets dealt with on Sundays. Come to Jesus with humility and he will not only forgive you for your sins, Jesus will empower you to join him in his mission of love. He will send his Spirit to give you strength and to guide you into your calling.
Get on board with God’s global mission – become a missionary – the kind of missionary God calls all his followers to be.