As sermons go, today’s was among the more stirring I have heard in a very long time. Occasionally the pastor at the church I attend finds a way to mix things up within me and force me to ask hard questions of myself. Today was one of those times, and hard questions were asked.
I have posed it before in this very place about who we are and what we are called to be, but to think about it the way I heard it today was compelling. In regards to missions, we here in America have a bad habit of referring to them as something that happens an ocean away, by people who have some special gift and calling by God that we don’t have. Of course if you have read anything by the apostle Paul you know that that is simply not true and we are called to so much more including being a missional people of a missional church.
Given this calling, our mission fields are not as complex as we make them. As the pastor said today, it might be the person who takes our order at lunch or the guy who pumps our gas, or a co-worker. It might be a neighbor or someone we regard as an enemy. No matter who it is in our lives that needs to hear the good news, it is each and every one of us that is called to spread it. Our mission field is as simple as the people you and I come into contact with every single day in our ordinary every day lives.
What really got me though was when the pastor made an analogy about missions and our typical response to them. When we want something done here in this country we just pay someone else to do it. For instance we pay to have the oil changed in our cars, most of us do anyway, including yours truly. Not unlike having our oil changed, we pay for missions to be done. That one kind of stung. I can remember the guy sitting behind me saying very clearly and audibly “ouch”.
We are so passive at times, we sit on the sidelines content to let someone else make all the plays. I have to say that in my past I was content to just be on the sideline. It wasn’t until I was in my early thirties that I began to ask God to put me in. It was hard at first because I knew what would happen. God was going to ask me to make a play and contribute. I was going to be a part of the team because I had asked to be. It seems odd that we would ask and then still be nervous about contributing, but it happens that way.
So when you get up the courage to ask God to be used mightily by Him for His kingdom and His glory, you had better be prepared, because I guarantee you will be asked to contribute to the team. When that happens you will experience some amazing things, there will be people who will enter your life for the purpose of sharing. The sharing that takes place will be some small or even large piece of what God means to you and how important it is to have Jesus in your life.
It is at this point that you are beginning to fulfill your mission here in this place, wherever you are. God has called you to minister to the lost, wherever you are, not just pay some “chosen one with a gift for missions” to do it for you.
I am realizing just how much this means to me as I further my walk with Him who calls me. I used to think it was so far beyond my capacities to talk to other people about the good news of Jesus. Now I see just how far I have come when I make phone calls completely unprompted to check on someone that is just making baby steps back to God and wanting nothing more than to shake their hands on Sunday when I see them at church. Or it’s the young woman at the coffee stand who I know is searching for a new church but she works Sunday mornings. So I like to stop by just to reassure her and say hi and let her know that when her schedule changes there are places she can go and be welcomed like family.
The more I learn and know about this good news, the harder it gets to keep quiet about it. I have some very serious internal struggles to deal with and God is helping me with that, but His message is clear. We CANNOT sit idly by while so many are in need. It is as simple as telling your neighbor that he can go to hell when you don’t make the effort to tell him about what you know. What are you so afraid of? Jesus said, “blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me”.
We all have the gift of missions, trust me. How each one of us applies that gift may be different, but it’s there. Those that are more extroverted are more likely to tell anyone at any time, while those that are more introverted will do best in small groups and when they feel confident in their surroundings. Reaching out is the first step, don’t let anything stop you. Go at this knowing that you have the power and protection of God almighty.
If you have asked God to get in the game, it’s only a matter of time before you will be asked to carry the ball. When you do, the Holy Spirit will be there to direct you through the chaos of those first steps. Don’t worry about dropping the ball or even getting that far. Your mission is simply to carry it so someone else can see you doing so. And in that moment you will be inspiring someone else to ask God to get off the sideline and get into the game.
my life is not mine, and yet it is mine to live for Him. Peace to you all.