All scripture is from the ESV translation unless otherwise noted.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
“Missions is not a calling given to some Christians, but a command given to all.” – Radical, David Platt
For those that don’t know, I sent out a devotional text every couple weeks or so. I have been reading through the book Radical, by David Platt, and chapter four of this book talks about missions. After I finished this chapter, it inspired me to send out a text about it. The quote above appeared in this chapter, and it’s definitely a very convicting one. I knew that by sending this text out, I was going to have at least a few people who disagreed with me (and a few did), but I believe very strongly in this message. I was not able to go as deeply as I would’ve liked in the text given the restrictions on how many characters you can type in one message, so I hope I can use this post to fully convey my heart behind this issue.
Before you read, please open your mind to the fact that though there’s a possibility that I’m misinterpreting the scriptures, there is also a possibility that my interpretation is spot on, that all of what you read is God’s truth. Not saying that it definitely is, but I wouldn’t be typing this if I didn’t believe it was so.
I want to say first and foremost that I do not by any means believe that salvation is works based – that’s not the message I’m trying to communicate. You do not need to go on missions in order to be saved nor are you are a worse Christian if you haven’t gone on a mission trip or if you heart isn’t for that, but my prayer is that God will use this post to at least open your heart to the idea of missions, and the idea that perhaps it is something that he commands all of us to do.
I believe that in our life path there is a sort of line that represents the difference in a path that doesn’t glorify God and a path that does, but there is a common misconception associated with this line that many Christians carry, even if they don’t realize it. Many Christians believe that God’s desire is for us to cross that line, that we may bring glory to him in what we do. What if God’s desire is not for us to just cross it, but to go as far past it as possible? That we should distance ourselves from what is “good enough for God” as much as we can? What if the line is not a finish line, but the starting line for a race that begins when we are saved and that we should be running for the rest of our lives on Earth? If you find yourself asking “what is enough for God?”, you should instead be asking if you truly understand the Gospel. Death to life, my friends. That’s how it works.
I have met very few Christians that read verses like Matthew 11:28 that says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” or John 10:10 which says, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” and think that those verses don’t apply them. That Jesus only wants to comfort and to give abundant life to a select group of Christians. Contrarily, many belittle the following verses (and others like them):
Matthew 28:19 - “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations”
Isaiah 49:6 - “I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth”
Acts 1:8 - “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Many think that these verses don’t apply to them, or they’ll misinterpret them leading them to think that they are truly following the commandments given above in the way they lead their life, when they in fact are not. The latter is definitely where I was a few months ago. You can’t accept some of the bible as inherent truth that applies to you, but then twist or dismiss other verses. All nations. Ends of the earth. These are the words God uses. It is evident through these verses that God wants his salvation to reach everyone, that he desires global salvation, so we MUST align our hearts with his in this area. What are you doing for the world’s salvation?
I want to walk you through how God has revealed his desire for missions to me recently, not that I may bring glory to myself by telling you my heart, but that you will understand that I believe that he desires greater things for all of us than you can imagine.
A few months ago, my life plan was to graduate from Texas A&M and to get a teaching at an inner city school in Dallas. Why Dallas? Because my family is there and I love them. There would be much glory brought to God through this plan, but he made me realize that I can do more for his kingdom than that. God has given me a LOVEEEEE for the language of Spanish, and there is a much higher Spanish population in other cities, like Houston. I’m gonna go ahead and throw this out there – I hate Houston. It’s a gross city with bad traffic and even worse sports teams, but I feel God calling me there. I do not believe God has changed my heart from wanting something more comfortable that would bring glory to him to something that would be out of my comfort zone, but what I do believe is that he never desired to for me to be “more comfortable” - I just thought he did. Just because you believe you are following God’s will doesn’t mean you actually are. About a week ago, God slapped me in the face. He told me that I should not settle for just serving him through teaching, but that I could do missions every summer. Then, I read chapter four of this book, and now I’m about ready to throw all of that out the window and just go teach somewhere where people straight up just don’t know anything about Jesus.
Let me recap:
1) Teaching in Dallas near family.
2) Teaching in Houston away from family.
3) Doing summer missions while teaching in Houston.
4) Moving to a different country (TBD) and teaching there.
All of these are past the line, but as I pursued God more and more, he opened my eyes to the fact that he always desired for me to abandon what was comfortable. We must not settle for bringing some glory to God in what we do. We should instead strive for bring as much glory to him as he can. Tear down any barriers you’ve put up to the idea of spreading his name to other nations, and seriously consider the fact that this may be exactly what he desires of you.
Is moving out of America the only way to make disciples in other nations?
No (but it’s definitely a great way). You can work towards spreading his name to the world while still being in America. In Radical, he talks about a man named Daniel who was studying to be a mechanical engineer. After college he had two offers – to work a nuclear power plant and make loads of dough, or go to grad school on a full scholarship. He turned down both and decided to get a job with an engineering program that was designed to help impoverished communities around the world. He lives in America, but works for the glory of God among the nations. I pray that God would give us all that heart.
Can you do missions within America? Because I really just don’t feel called to foreign missions.
It is not an either/or question. “All nations” obviously includes America. We can and should make disciples in this nation, but we must not be content with making disciples just in this nation. It’s not here or there, it’s here AND there.
The balance between making disciples in America vs. elsewhere is definitely my biggest gray area. I think our best answer is to look at the examples laid out for us in scripture.
Jesus was a nomad. You look at his life path (physically) and you will see that the dude was always traveling. He spent time doing ministry in Jordan, Tyre, Sidon, Cana (these last three were cities in South Lebanon), Galilee, and Jerusalem.
Paul was not even a nomad. I don’t know what to call him. I think the term “fisher of men” is pretty accurate, but “beast” may be even more accurate. The guy went everywhere. Galatia, Rome, Ephesus, Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica, and Colossae. Could Paul have simply done ministry in Tarsus (where he was born)? Yes, but he understood the message of Jesus and found the news to be so good that the greatest desire of his heart was to shout of God’s glory from the mountains, that his name might be hallowed across the Earth. How good is this news to you? Will you give your life to making his name known in your home city? How about in a city a little bit further away from where you live? Or what about moving to a different state that you’ve never lived in that they may know him there? Or do you understand it to be so good, that you’re only response is to want to make his name known to all nations, to the ends of the earth? Psalm 119:35 says “Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.” If missions truly are a commandment and you love God, they should be a delight, not a duty.
I love speaking about what God’s teaching me, but I want to say again that I know that I could be in the wrong here. I ask you to not take my word for it, but to pray to God that he might reveal to you his life plans for you.
8 And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”