Charles Spurgeon drew a clear line, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter”. These words sting with truth. They vigorously grip my heart even as I pack my bags to go overseas on mission.
I recognize that not everyone will physically go to the nations. But I’m confronted by this statement because not everyone who travels on a mission trip is truly a missionary. Allow me to explain.
It is my belief that every Christian should have a passport and a willingness to go wherever God sends. He is a missional God and has called us to join Him in reaching the nations … all of them. Today, there are almost 7,100 unreached people groups worldwide; that’s over 3.1 billion people, 41.6% of the world population. As we understand God’s Word (e.g., Romans 1-8), these souls, created in God’s image, are lost and dying without Jesus and without eternal hope. We must bring the Gospel to them. As it’s been said, the Gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.
But just packing your bags does not make you a missionary. I stand as Exhibit A. I must admit that, far too often, I attempt to do God’s work in my own power. My motives become selfish. Pride gets in the way of true submission. I fail to prepare appropriately. I spend insufficient time in prayer and meditating on God’s Word. I fail to adequately petition God on behalf of the people that He loves more than I do. I fail to put on the full armor of God. I fail to submit myself completely to His will. I fail to seek boldness to speak confidently and clearly in His name. (Eph. 6) When I fall into this trap, the mission is mine and bound for failure.
And, yet, He allows me to go anyway. I don’t understand why. I am unworthy. But, as Dr. Ken Keathley said, “God can hit straight with a crooked stick”.
It seems that I need the Gospel just as much as those to whom I go. I need the daily reminder that it is only God who provides the message of hope and eternal life. It is only in the grace of Jesus’ sinless life, His death on the cross, and resurrection from the grave, that I have anything to talk about. It is God who provides the power through His Holy Spirit. It is God who sustains every breath and heartbeat. It is God who called me. He does not need me, but He has chosen me. He called me to join His mission and when I get that right, then, and only then, am I truly on mission for and with God.
Being a missionary means much more than packed bags and passports. We must remain focused on God’s mission, centered in the Gospel of Christ, and urgent in our efforts to reach all peoples. Will you join Him on mission? Will you go to the peoples with Him? To Coats? To your family? To your co-workers? Anywhere He leads? Even when physical limitations prevent your travel, will you join Him in prayer and giving? Will you be a missionary today?