The word “missionary” is not in the Bible – at least not from the Hebrew and Greek languages (you can read my blog about Missions from last year that goes into depth about the words involved in the Hebrew, Greek, Latin and English). The various English translations may use the word “mission” or “ministry”, but the original word means service. Missions and ministry are about serving God. They describe the work of a disciple.
A disciple of Christ does four basic things:
- Follow Christ
- Learn from Christ
- Obey Christ
- Go where Christ sends
Another way to say it is: Follow – Learn – Do – Go. Four simple words that add up to the disciple fulfilling his or her mission for God. God says go and we go. It’s that simple. We are at His service – always.
The work of going on a mission is not just for professional missionaries; it’s for disciples. Every Christian should be a disciple, therefore, every Christian should be a missionary. Makes sense!
Where should you go on your mission from God? What is God saying to you? Where does He tell you He wants you to go? When you know where God wants you to go, you will be convinced of what to do and where to go. Discipleship is simple. God saves you, grows you and sends you to tell other people about Him. Discipleship is simple – but it’s not easy or quick. It is a marvelous process.
So, where should we go? A good way to answer that is to see where God sent other believers in the Bible. Remember that God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He hasn’t changed in thousands of years of human history. He’s still sending His children on missions similar to long ago. God had a purpose, called individuals to be part of carrying out His purpose, prepared them for their work, and sent them out.
Here are some examples of God sending people on special missions. What do you find similar in all of them?
“And God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch … Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.” Genesis 6:13-14, 22
“Now the LORD had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him.” Genesis 12:1-4
“Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt … So Moses went and returned to Jethro his father-in-law, and said to him, ‘Please let me go and return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see whether they are still alive.” Exodus 3:9-10; 4:18
“After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, it came to pass that the LORD spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: ‘Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel … Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, ‘Pass through the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare provisions for yourselves, for within three days you will cross over this Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess.” Joshua 1:1-2, 10-11
“Now the LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go; I am sending you to Jesse the Bethlehemite. For I have provided Myself a king among his sons … Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward.” 1 Samuel 16:1, 13
What did you see that was common in these stories? 1) God chose the mission, 2) God chose who He would send on the mission, 3) God spoke to the one He chose about the mission, 4) the one chosen for the mission heard what God said, 5) the one chosen for the mission obeyed God and went where He sent them.
You’ll find this same pattern throughout the Bible. God selected, spoke and sent. People heard, obeyed and went. The same was true of Christ’s disciples in the New Testament. Jesus sent His disciples out on short, specific missions. They heard, obeyed and went where Jesus sent them. They returned to Christ with news about their specific mission. Jesus used every part of the mission process to teach His disciples how to do their work with excellence. It might have been something as seemingly small as getting something and taking it back to the Master — or as big as preaching the Gospel and casting demons out of people. But no matter how big or small the mission, the pattern was the same. Jesus chose the mission, chose who He would send on the mission, spoke to the people He was going to send on the mission, and sent them on their mission. The disciples heard what Jesus said, obeyed and went where He told them to go and did what He told them to do. That’s what it means to be a missionary.
Many Christians have told me through the years that they were afraid of God’s will for their lives because He might send them somewhere they didn’t want to go. That fear kept them from listening to what God said to them and they missed many opportunities to serve Him along the way. A lot of Christians have told me they are afraid of missions because they’re afraid God will send them to some terrible place in the world where they will be miserable, starve and die. Where did we ever get that image of serving God? Where did we get that image of missions? Why would we think God’s will for our lives would be for terrible things to happen to us?
I think some of the problems we have with God’s will for our lives is that we don’t trust God. We gladly trusted Him to save us from sin, secure our souls for the trip to Heaven and give us all kinds of great gifts here on earth, but when it comes time to serve God we suddenly have trust issues. Faith in God is not a buffet line. We don’t pick and choose what we want to do, then go off into a corner somewhere and do only those things we want to do. Faith in God is sitting down at our Heavenly Father’s feast table and partaking of all the sumptuous things He serves us. Some of what God gives us at His table is to go on specific missions He gives us to accomplish.
Going on a mission for God doesn’t necessarily mean you sell everything you own, go to missionary school to learn new languages and cultures, and travel half way around the world to small villages in the desert or jungle. That might be where God sends you, but He also needs people to go next door, down the street, or across town. Every Christian is a missionary, so that means every place we go is part of the mission field. You are a missionary to your unsaved family members, neighbors and friends. You are a missionary to your co-workers and fellow students. You are a missionary to store clerks, postal workers, UPS and FedEx delivery people, bank tellers – anybody you meet during the day. That’s your first mission field. One of the neat things about that is you are already trained in the language and culture. You are a native of your country. God may broaden your mission to include other cities, other states or even other countries, but He will give you everything you need to accomplish those missions to His Glory and you will love doing it because you know it’s what God has chosen for you to do. He will give you great joy and peace in your service for Him.
The God of Heaven loved you so much that He sent His Son to die for your sins and secure your soul for Eternity. Then, if that wasn’t enough, the God of Heaven gifted you with spiritual gifts and chose you for missions important to Him. That’s amazing! The God of Heaven thinks enough of us to choose us, speak to us and send us. Our response should be to follow, hear, do and go!
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”