Acts 20:24 What matters most to me is to finish what God started: the job the Master Jesus gave me of letting everyone I meet know all about this incredibly extravagant generosity of God.
I want to try to talk about being in mission and being a missionary today. Most missions we do in the church today are pretty normal – normal people doing fairly safe and ordinary things with fairly ordinary people. I say that because sometimes our perceptions of missionaries are of people who leave all kind of normal living for a grass hut, to live with cannibals on the other side of the world, who work for chickens and risk getting eaten by wild animals. We think of being a missionary like, ‘Mission Impossible’ but without all the excitement, drama and reward attached to it.
However, I am here to tell you, you were made for a mission. That means you were created to be a missionary. In the Bible, the word missionary is Apostle. When Paul writes to the churches of Ephesus and Corinth and says, “From Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ...” he is saying he is their missionary. Missionary means, ‘one sent by God.’ When Paul writes to the church at Galatia he says, “Paul, an apostle not sent from men nor through the agency of man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead... You and I are missionaries when Jesus sends us. In John 20:21 Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” God sent someone on the mission to reach you. That might have been a pastor, a friend, a parent, a neighbor, or a teacher. Whoever it was, they were God’s missionary to you. Now, God sends you, me, each one of us, to reach someone else. None of us were saved just so we could go to heaven. We were saved so we could tell others how to go to heaven. We were saved to be sent.
For many years the United States was the world leader in sending Christian missionaries to other countries. We have sent missionaries to Africa, India, China, Korea, Russia and just about every other country. Today, many of these countries are sending missionaries to America. It’s estimated that almost 70% of Americas are unchurched. So, America is ready, or as Jesus said, the fields are ripe for harvest. So, you or I don’t have to go across the world to be a missionary; we simply need to go across the street at home, or across the hallway at school, or to the next office at work. You were made for a mission. The only question is where God sends us - and if we will go.
The other problem is many think being a missionary is a professionals’ job; a specialty for a few – something most of us could never adequately do. But we need to start seeing being a missionary as our main job. I know that sounds crazy, because you think your main job is a teacher, a lawyer, an accountant, a carpenter, a nurse or computer programmer. That is the big thing you do; but friend, that job is way too small. Stick with me on this - Your big job, your main purpose from God is to work for Him. It is to reach others for Christ. Your occupation becomes your platform - the place where you are a missionary.
There is a remarkable story about the old Standard Oil Company, which is now BP. They offered an enormous sum of money to a missionary in China to help them development their oil business in China. He knew the culture and had the relationships. He turned them down. So, they doubled the salary offer. He turned them down again. They said, “What do you want? We can't give more money than that.” He said, “The money doesn't have anything to do with it - the job is too small.” I believe with all my heart that God, no matter who we are or what we do, is our employer and is saying to us that if we just do our secular job - our job is way too small. Our purpose is to join Jesus in His mission to save the world.
That’s our purpose, and our job is the platform or stage He has given us to accomplish that. What’s a missionary do?
1. CONTINUE JESUS’ MINISTRY. After Jesus was crucified and resurrected, and before He ascended to heaven, He called the Apostles to His side and gave them what we call today the Great Commission: Go into all the world, teaching them all I have commanded you, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. They were to continue His ministry on earth.
Friends, those words were not time specific or people specific. Those words are for all time, and for all of us. We are to continue His ministry.
A few years ago, our son Max was getting ready to go stay overnight with his friend Brad. Brad was from his previous school – they kept in touch but had not seen each other for a while. Brad’s dad had multiple sclerosis. He was confined to bed and a wheel chair. He had to be fed, he could hardly talk. The first time Max was invited to their house, he was afraid. He didn’t know how to handle that. But we told him to just be normal, talk to him. He might not respond, but just be polite, thank him for having you, help in any way you can. He came home and said it was a fun time. He went back many times. Then Brad’s dad died. Now, Max was scared about going there again. He didn’t want to say anything that might upset his friend. I said, it’s okay, Brad needs you. If he talks about his dad, tell him you understand how hard it must be. Remind him how much his dad loved him; how much God loves him, and how God is caring for his dad in heaven and his family right now. Tell him how much you love them. That’s being a missionary; sent from God to continue doing what Jesus did. To love and care like Jesus. Missionaries ~
2. SHARE GOD’s GRACE. Paul wrote, ‘The most important thing is that I complete my mission, the work that the Lord Jesus gave me—to tell people the Good News about God’s grace.’
Grace is the undeserved loved of God. Paul understood that. He had persecuted Christ followers, discredited who Jesus was, torn down the faith, consented to Stephen being stoned. On the Damascus Road the risen Jesus caught up with him. In a blinding flash of light Jesus confronted Paul and made him blind because he had been blind to Jesus’ love. Paul knew Jesus could have killed him and he deserved death. But Jesus forgave Him and sent him to be the world’s greatest missionary. The one who killed Christians started to kill people with kindness. The one who tore down the faith built it up. To those undeserving of a second chance, Paul offered exactly what he had been offered – grace, the undeserved love of God. Paul knew he was made for a mission. He traveled thousands of miles by foot, horseback, and ship to share the grace of Jesus Christ.
Have you received Grace – the Good News of Jesus? If you have God calls you to be a missionary. He sends you to continue His ministry to offering undeserved love to all you meet. You don’t have to travel hardly anywhere. Don’t you know there are thousands of people who need grace? Thousands of women who have had abortions but now break down when they hear a baby cry. Thousands of men who have left their families and would do anything for a Father’s Day card. Thousands of teens who have been left without families or have lost all their self-esteem because they gave themselves away to a society that has devalued them and left them to carry guilt for the rest of their lives. They need grace. Grace, forgiveness, undeserved love is the only answer. The only ones to give it to them is us.
Don’t think it doesn’t come without cost or inconvenience. Paul wrote, ‘But, now I must obey the Holy Spirit and go to Jerusalem. I don’t know what will happen to me there. I know only that in every city the Holy Spirit tells me that troubles and even jail wait for me.’ Missionaries ~
3. ANNOUNCE VICTORY. In Romans 10:14–15 Paul quotes the prophet Isaiah, “As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!” This is the picture of people watching from the city walls for the runner to return from the battlefield to tell them if their army has been victorious in battle. When the runner came, and they saw the smile on his face and the heard the news of victory they rejoiced. So many today have only heard the news of defeat. They desperately need to hear the Good News of the victory of Jesus Christ in their lives.
Hopefully this is the message of every funeral we preach. It is the message to every person with cancer, to every person suffering, to every person weary of life today. That Jesus Christ came into this world; lived a perfect life, died on the Cross for us and rose again! He is victorious and so are we. Nothing, nothing can keep us down or beat us when we are on the side of Christ. All we have to do is believe and try. Our announcement of victory is of eternal importance.
I remember my first baseball team, I was seven years old. There was a kid on our team who never swung the bat. He played, they had to play him, in the batter’s box the bat never left his shoulder. My dad was one of the coaches. Try as he might, he could never get the kid to swing. The last game of the season, the championship game, we’re behind. It is our last as bat, we have runners on, there are two outs, but there is hope we can pull it out - until we see who is up next: the kid who never swung. The first two pitches go by, he does not swing; strike one, strike two. My dad calls time out. He calls him over, he puts his arm around his shoulder, he looks him square in the eye and says, “You have to swing. You’ve never swung all year; this game depends on you, the team is depending on you, if it is anywhere in this ballpark, you gotta swing! Do you understand me?” “Uh, huh.” The kid gets in the batter’s box, gets set, here comes the ball, ‘Strike three!’ He never swung. The game was over, we were devastated. We were on him, kicking dirt at him; season over, hopes crushed.
Maybe that’s you. Jesus has called you, He has coached you, but you have never swung. You’ve not gone for Him, never opened your mouth for Him. Here’s what He does: The great Coach comes, puts His loving arms around you and says, ‘The games not over. You have another chance. You don’t have to hit a home run, you just have to try. I will do the rest. You’re not a failure, you are my child. I need you, my world needs you. So, I am sending you up to the plate again. Just swing, give it your best, I’ll do the rest.
The rest of Paul’s message in Romans 10 is this: “Anyone who calls on the Lord will be saved.” 14But before people can ask the Lord for help, they must believe in him; and before they can believe in him, they must hear about him; and for them to hear about the Lord, someone must tell them; 15and before someone can go and tell them, that person must be sent.”
You are made for a mission. You were saved to be sent. So, continue Jesus’s ministry, share His undeserved love – grace, with those around you. Remind people of the victory of Jesus Christ. When you leave the doors of your church building, there should be a reminder sign that says, ‘you are entering the mission field’. The only question is where Jesus sends us - and if we will go.
Printable PDF attached below.