Missionally Minded - Seeing What God Sees
Question! Are you a mission-minded person? Or, are you a missional person? What’s the difference? New terminology is making its way through church life these days. Churches are being challenged to ask themselves – are we mission-minded? Or, are we missional? Again, what’s the difference?
· Being mission-minded is defined as praying about missions and for missionaries; it is defined as supporting missions with our financial resources; and, it is defined as occasionally participating in a short-term mission trip.
· Being missionally-minded is defined as viewing all of life as being on mission. Southern Baptists used to call it ‘lifestyle evangelism,’ but the term missional has replaced that previous term. Being missional means that my entire life, all my relationships, my work, my play and my entire focus is being on mission for the Lord. It means that I see in every day living opportunities to love God, love people and serve others.
· We must be both – mission-minded and missional. The mission causes of the kingdom need our prayers, our financial support and our occasional participation. But even further, God needs our entire life to be one of mission.
· No matter what you call it, every member is a minister!
(1 Peter 3:15-16) “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
I know what you’re thinking. Missions? How boring! How old-fashioned! How wasteful of a worthy life! Let me respond by saying that as a believer you will have no greater joy than to be an active part of God’s kingdom mission. All other occupations pale in comparison to the thrill that is gained by seeing God use your life to reach another life with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Matthew 9:35-38 records a poignant description of the ministry of Jesus Himself. In it is a description not only of Jesus’ ministry, but the qualities of a god-honoring, Christ-exalting, Word-saturated life lived for the glory of God. If you want to live your life as a missional person here are a few of the things that must characterize your life just as they did the life of Jesus!
(Matthew 9:35-38) “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.'”
Go! “Jesus went through all the towns and villages…”
There’s no other way to be on mission than to go get them. They will not automatically come. In fact, the chances of the lost coming to us because we have a building on a prominent street corner is remote. Those days are gone. We must go get them. Recall Jesus’ parable of Luke 14:12-24 sometimes referred to as the parable of the ‘great Invitation’ or the ‘great banquet?’ Those first invited found excuses, Jesus said in Luke 14:21, 23, “Go quickly to the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame…” and “Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.”
Teach “…teaching in their synagogues…”
A missional person is always teaching. To teach means to communicate the truth of God’s Word in a way that can be understood so that the sinner can hear and respond. We do not teach ourselves as the authority, but God’s Word as the life-giving truth of God (1 Cor. 2:1-5).
Preach “…preaching the good news of the kingdom…”
In addition, a missional person proclaims the good news of the kingdom. And what is the good news of the kingdom? It’s 2 Corinthians 5:19, “…that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them.” The good news is 2 Corinthians 5:21, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God!”
Care “…healing every disease and sickness.”
Jesus cared not only for their souls, but for their well-being. This is why He was always touching, healing, ministering to people. We may not have the gift of healing, but we can care about those God has put into our sphere of influence.
Look “He saw the crowds...harassed, helpless…”
Jesus had vision. When He looked at people He saw their sin and their soul; He saw not only what was, He saw what could be! When He saw the people of His day He envisioned them as “harassed, helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Rather than disgust at their sin, Jesus saw them as they were – without hope, direction, as sinners in need of a Savior.
Love “…He had compassion on them.”
As a result, Jesus had compassion on the people He saw. The term for ‘compassion’ here is not the usual term for love or sympathy such as ‘agape.’ Rather, Luke uses a visceral term – ‘splagchizomai’ – and it literally refers to a gut-level feeling. Jesus’ was emotionally moved to the point that it moved Him to the very core of His physical being. There is a visceral response to people that is repulsive and that drives us away from people. Instead, Jesus had a visceral, gut-level response to people that moved Him toward people. Do you love this way? Does the sin of the sinner repulse you so that you are driven away from them; or does the sin of sinners draw you to them in redemptive love? The mission-minded, missional person loves like Jesus loved.
Believe “The harvest is plentiful…”
As Jesus walked through the cities of His day He turned to His disciples and said the most interesting thing, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” I believe this is a statement of belief articulated by Jesus. There are three implications in Jesus’ statement for what we must believe as God’s missionaries:
1. We must believe that ‘they’re ready!’ That is, sinners are ready to be saved. Too often, we doubt their readiness. Jesus said they’re ready now! All they need is someone to share the good news with them and let God take care of the results.
2. We must believe that God will save them. The implication of the phrase “The harvest is ready…” is that if we go, and they’re ready, God will save some.
3. We must believe that it’s up to us! The missionary can’t save a sinner. But God has ordained that He would use His people to declare the good news so that sinners will hear the gospel, the Spirit will awaken the dead heart of sin and draw them to Himself, enabling them to believe. God uses us as a means in His redemptive plan. This is why He laments the scarcity of workers – “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.”
Pray “the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest…to send”
Pray is the mechanism God uses to draw people out of their comfort zones and into the mission fields. Pray is attuning ourselves to the will of God; it is aligning ourselves with God’s purposes. We are to pray for others to attune their heart to the great missionary God we serve.
Go! “…to send out workers into His harvest field.”
Again, we must go. Going is not optional, it is optimum. Matthew 28:19 begins the Great Commission passage, “Therefore go…” And Acts 1:8 puts our commission this way, “…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” He sends, we go and that’s the way it works. The word for “send out” is rather interesting – it is ‘ekballo’ and comes from two words, ‘ek’ which means ‘out’ and ‘ballo’ which means ‘to throw.’ It is a rather violent term.
Jesus is serious about missions. He is literally asking us to pray that God will throw out, thrust out, pitch out, kick out workers into the mission field. So, if you sense a kicking, convicting sensation in your head and your heart right now it is God responding to the prayers of a faithful servant of God as He kicks you out of your comfort zone and into the lives of those who need a Savior. This is the way God sees missions!