I am concerned about an attitude and mindset that seems to become increasingly popular within the US. It is essentially an anti-world mission mindset that is often expressed along the lines of: We have enough problems of our own, so why should we be involved with missions? Or, sometimes I get asked in regard to the mission organization I am with: Well, what are you doing here in the US?, implying that our work is not valid if we are not (As a side note, I believe that some of our materials would be just as useful and impactful right here in the US as we have witnessed around the world, but it’s a tougher “sell”, because access to resources and materials are unlimited here in comparison to those countries we work in, where they don’t have access sometimes even to Bibles! Also, this mindset reveals a lack of comprehending the much harsher conditions many people in this world live in, the suffering many go through, the struggles they face, especially in comparison to here. Trust me…come on a mission trip with me if you don’t believe me!).
I can certainly understand this type of mindset coming from those who are not followers of Jesus, but it is surprising and sad to find this mindset growing within some circles of believers and churches, especially when this is contrary to even the most basic biblical teaching. The very core of the Gospel message teaches us that God so loved the world (John 3:16) that he sent his Son as Savior, not for just one people group, but for all people (1 John 4:14). Among the last words of Jesus, before he ascended to heaven, were that his disciples were to go not only to their neighbors, but in fact to all the world and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Yes, they were to start where they were when the Holy Spirit would come upon them, but not to stop there! They (we) are to be his witnesses, even to the ends of the earth! (Acts 1:8).
The issue is one of obedience to Christ, out of love for Christ, having come to know his love and salvation personally. A person who has truly surrendered his or her life to the risen, living Lord and who is filled with the Spirit of God should be willing to go wherever they are led to go, directed to go or called to go. Often that begins with going to our family, friends, co-workers and neighbors, but it can also mean moving to another state, city or even country. It may mean going on mission trips, supporting missionaries or becoming a missionary. In God’s kingdom there are no boundaries, and people in all the world are our “neighbors”, not just those in our own community, city or country (Luke 10:25-37). This does not need to become an either/or, but rather it is a both/and.
I believe one factor in regard to missions has to do with fear. We fear the unknown, or that which is different or outside of our “comfort zone” or sense of “control.” But I believe Jesus gave us what we need to overcome fear by making two promises to his first disciples in the context of the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Cushioned before that calling is the promise of his Sovereignty: All authority on heaven and earth has been given to me and the promise of his Presence: and surely I will be with you to the very end of the ages. These two truths are what give us the confidence and courage we need to fulfill what he called us to do! These are the promises we can use and take our stand on to combat the fear the enemy would like to use to cripple us and prevent us from world missions.
Secondly, perhaps our vision, compassion, passion and commitment are also too limited. Our heart should be God’s heart, and his heart is for all the world! Yes, he may call us to focus our efforts specifically in one place, or among a certain people, or in a certain nation, either for a season or for our entire life. Yet, this doesn’t mean that our heart shouldn’t be for the world, or that our lives couldn’t impact the whole world. Jesus himself, during his earthly ministry, didn’t leave Israel, and he said multiple times that he had come (or, was sent) only for the lost sheep of Israel (Matthew 15:24). Even so, there is no denying that no other life in human history has touched more people around the world than Jesus Christ! His ministry was focused on the Jewish people, but his mission and impact was the entire world!
God calls people to serve in different ways and in different places. However, my concern is that in some circles, those of us identifying as Christians here in America seem to be losing some of our heart, passion, vision, commitment and calling to world missions. (To be sure and fair there are certainly many other wonderful exceptions and examples!). But forget the fact that prayer has been removed from public schools or that there is a clear “anti-Christ” movement in our culture (since when did Jesus say the world would embrace him? Did he not say, in fact, that the opposite would be true?). What is far more alarming and concerning to me is that, generally speaking, we seem to have lost, or continue to lose, the fear of God, the presence of God in our personal lives, prayer in our own homes/churches, passion for missions, evangelism and real discipleship. But, even these things are mere symptoms of the root problem; we are losing and forsaking our first love. Our devotion for Christ is waning (Revelation 2:1-11; 3:14-21).
We need to come to a place where we “rediscover the Word of God” again (2 Kings 22) and obey the teachings of Jesus out of a passion and love for him. Really, we need to remember his love for us and fall back in love with this wonderful Savior who first loved us! He made the ultimate sacrifice for us, so what possible sacrifice would be too much to ask of us? If he left all the glory and splendor of heaven to reach, serve and save us, what possible distance could we travel or good things could we give up to share this Good News? What can possibly compare or even come close to what he gave up for us? In fact, he laid down his own life so that we might live. Aren’t we called to do the same? World missions is not just the calling of some Christians; it is the responsibility and calling of all.
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me! (Isaiah 6:8)
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. (1 John 3:16-18)
*I also realize that perhaps for many, it is easy to become paralyzed or overwhelmed and not know what to do or feel like you can’t do anything. However, there are always ways even if it begins small. Plus, doing something for somebody is better than doing nothing for nobody! If you struggle with knowing what to do I would love to chat with you about idea’s, resources you could check out etc. At ServeNow one of the abilities we have through serving in a variety of ways around the world is that there is something at all levels for anybody. In fact, one big reason I personally joined ServeNow was because I saw how far so little could go and how even small gifts or efforts could have a big impact! Visit our website (weservenow.org) for more information or contact me and let’s dream, pray and plan together! I promise God can do more through you and I than we could ever imagine!