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What Does a ‘Missionary’ Actually Look Like?

What Does a ‘Missionary’ Actually Look Like?

When you think about a missionary, often the images that comes to mind are those “superstar” Christians who have their pictures on the back walls of our churches, who get on planes and wear cargo-pants—coming back once a year to offer slide-show presentations.

In no way should we belittle that view of missionaries. 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.

Some people are called to do missions across the globe. Others, God calls to do missions in the suburbs of some Southern city or in uptown Manhattan. The fact is, if you’re a Christian, you’re called to me a missionary wherever you are. Living missionally doesn’t have anything to do with how you earn money.

Unfortunately, the word “missional” has become such a misused and misunderstood buzzword in the last decade. 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 “professional” missionaries.

To the surprise of most, the words “missions” and “missionary” are found nowhere in Scripture. However, the concept of missions, missionaries and missional living is a central theme in the Bible.

And, beyond that, Scripture is clear that all Christians are missionaries.

Here’s why:

Becoming a Christian Means You’re Called to Missions.

A sentiment like, “God has called me to Him, but not to missions” just can’t exist in the minds of Christians (see Ephesians 2:8-10 and 2 Corinthians 5:17-21).

The call to a relationship with the King is also a call to tell the world about this same King. And, this should make us extremely joyful. After all, thank God that there is more to being a Christian than getting “saved,” sitting on our blessed assurances on padded pews, going to a bunch of potluck dinners, waiting on the Rapture Bus to swoop down and pick us all up to the “good ol’ by-and-by”.

The beautiful truth that comes from Scripture (see again, Ephesians 2:8-10 and 2 Corinthians 5:17-21) is that “We’re not just called from something—we’re also called to something.”

Yes, Christians are 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.

Mission is one of the reasons we were adopted into the family 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.

As a Christian, You Have the Message of the Gospel.

God told the prophet Isaiah, “Go and say” (Isaiah 6:9). The apostle Paul told the Corinthians, “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” (2 Corinthians 5:19b–20).

Any kind of missions that doesn’t have a verbal gospel proclamation is most likely not the mission of God—rather, just temporary service projects. There is nothing wrong with painting fences, planting gardens or handing out sandwiches. However, if there is no message tied to it, let’s not call it missions.

True, biblical missions uses avenues like social justice, mercy ministries and service-work to ultimately point people to the savior named Jesus.

It’s not loving to let someone live with physical hunger when we have it within our means to feed them. And, 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.

© 2023 RELEVANT Media Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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