Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting every Christian should move to Africa, or some other far away place. Sometimes, we make things too complicated.
We see missionaries who are sent out into the far reaches of the world, those who are risking their lives, and even those who are reaching thousands, hundreds of thousands, or millions of people both in our nation and abroad.
Missionaries must be great. And we don’t feel great.
I recently had a conversation with my 5 year-old about this. We were discussing how daddy missed the Independence Day celebration with us last year because he was on a mission trip.
My 5 year old said, “Only missionaries can go on a mission trip.”
Sometimes, in their innocence, little kids just get so real. Because I think that’s what a lot of Christians think. That only “special people” can go on mission trips or serve.
- That only those called to the mission field or ministry have the ability to spread the gospel message; and
- That only those called to the ministry or to be missionaries have the responsibility to spread the gospel message.
The truth is that we all have both the ability, and the responsibility to spread the good news of Christ.
At dictionary.com, a missionary is defined as:
The first part of that definition is the one that typically comes to mind when we think of a missionary. However, the second and third parts are equally valid and important. As Christians, we have the most important information ever in the world, and it needs to be shared.
More importantly, we have all been sent on a vital mission. Jesus said,
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
We may not all be called to foreign missions or to full time ministry, but we are called and equipped to spread the good news of Christ. We owe it to people around us to share the hope that we have. (1 Peter 3:15)
In that conversation with my son I mentioned earlier, a few minutes later he said that there was a little boy he spoke with one day who said that God isn’t powerful.
I asked him, “Did you tell him that God is powerful?”
He replied, “Yes, but he didn’t believe me.”
I said, “See, Logan, you were kind of being a missionary right then–you were telling somebody the truth about God.
He shook his head, “But that was before I even knew about missionaries.”
Again, the child gets to the heart of it. It was before he even knew about missionaries. Sometimes we Christians can get bogged down with Christianese. We have a special vocabulary for everything. And if we don’t know the right terms it must not count.
If I’m talking to God, I must not be doing it right, unless I call it prayer.
If I’m praying for others, I must not really be doing it if I don’t know about “intercessory prayer.”
And if I’m witnessing, it must not really matter unless I know about missionaries and ministry terms.
But the truth is, a lot of our Christianese doesn’t come from the Bible at all, they are just man-made terms to describe and define things we do.
So, I want to say…whether you know about missionaries or not, whether you are called to go to Africa, or into the ministry…or not, we all have a responsibility to our neighbors to share the good news of Jesus Christ with them.
Please know that I am not in any way trying to undermine the amazing efforts of those who we typically think of as missionaries. Those extraordinary people who are dying to self daily, and who are risking their lives to share truth with a dying world. I am not trying to undervalue their efforts. Maybe they deserve to have a special title that is all their own.
But maybe, sometimes we use that special title as an excuse to sit in our comfy homes and leave the serving and witnessing to others. Because “it’s their calling and not ours.” But that’s where we are wrong. The fact is that we are all called to die to self, follow Him and serve others. We all have a responsibility to share the friend and savior we have with a world that is dying without Him. Every single one of us.