FIRST-PERSON: You're a Christian? You're a missionary

by Shane Pruitt, posted Monday, July 11, 2016 (2 years ago)

GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP) -- Although the word "missionary" is found nowhere in the English Bible, the definition and concept of missions is a central theme in God's Word.

Thank God for those who surrender their lives to share the love of Jesus on foreign soil. They definitely are missionaries, but they're not the only ones.

A simple explanation of missions is that we have a glorious King who has rescued us into His Kingdom, and now we get to love Him, worship Him and tell the world about Him so others will love, worship and share Him.

Even Wikipedia, believe it or not, gives one of the best definitions I've found of missional living: "In Christianity, missional living is the adoption of the posture, thinking, behaviors, and practices of a missionary in order to engage others with the gospel message."

Unfortunately, the word "missional" has become an overused and misunderstood buzzword. But, at its core, the term emphasizes the truth that all Christians should be involved in the Great Commission of Jesus Christ, not only a select group of career missionaries.

Scripture is clear that all Christians are missionaries.

Consider this Scripture: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

With this in mind, the following statement can't biblically exist in the minds of Christians: "God has called me to salvation but not to missions." The call to a relationship with the King is also a call to tell the world about this same King. Thank God that there is more to being a Christian than sitting on our blessed assurances on padded pews and waiting on the Rapture Bus to swoop down and pick us up for the "good ol' by-and-by."

We're not just called from something; we're also called to something. Yes, we're saved from sin, hell, God's wrath and the kingdom of darkness, but we're also called to the Kingdom of God, community, the church and the mission of God. As believers, we cannot be selfish with the Gospel. We must share it with the world, which includes our schools, jobs, families, neighborhoods and the nations. How and where we are missionaries will be revealed by the Spirit of God, but the fact that we are missionaries has been declared once and for all in God's Word. It's now our purpose, passion and point of living to tell the world about Jesus.

Scripture is equally clear: Missionaries carry with them a message.

"How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?" Paul asked in Romans 10:14-15. "And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!'"

God told the prophet Isaiah, "Go and say" (Isaiah 6:9). The apostle Paul told the Corinthians, "… we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (2 Corinthians 5:20).

There is nothing wrong with painting fences, planting gardens or handing out sandwiches. However, if there is no Gospel message tied to it, let's not call it missions. Those efforts are no different than what many other clubs, organizations or philanthropists do.

True, biblical missions uses avenues like social justice, mercy ministries and service to ultimately point people to the Savior named Jesus. It's not very loving to let someone live with physical hunger when we have it within our means to feed them; however, it's also not loving to let someone live with spiritual hunger when we have within our mouths the message of life. Here is what true care for someone looks like: We give a sandwich out of love while also telling them about the Bread of Life out of love.

The church reformer Martin Luther said, "It wouldn't matter if Jesus died a thousand times if no one heard about it." This is a haunting reality that should motivate us all to realize and remember that missions is not one of the many ministries of the local church, nor is it a passion and calling of "some." The mission of God is the very reason the church exists. If you're a Christian, you're a missionary. So, go and tell the world about your King.

Shane Pruitt is director of missions for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention.
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