Thursday, April 10, 2008

Missions Apology

Christian missions is a difficult thing for many people, even Christians to understand. Churches have begun pulling money and other resources from mission fields because they see no rewards, no fruits from the money they are pumping into missions. They would rather keep the money for the new youth-center, basketball-gym, or community center. These things are not inherently bad by any means. The point I am trying to make is that, as Christians we are all called to missions and to neglect missions is to neglect an important aspect of God.
God walked among His creation in the beginning until creation rebelled and the prefect relationship was severed. His elect moved in and out of rebellion and praise for thousands of years until God walked among His creation, once again. This time as a man. Jesus made it possible, through His death resurrection, to have communion with God, and ushered in the Kingdom of God on earth. 
This event is, in a matter of speaking, God's greatest missionary journey to earth. But this is not the first outreach He had. In fact, the entire Old Testament stands as a witness to the missionary efforts of God. Christian missions is the process of spreading the Name of God throughout the nations. This is what YHWH was doing in the Ancient Near East through His elect (Israel) and through prophets, judges, monarchs, and even pagan nations. Every story, in some way centers on the fact that God's name was, in some way being made known to the nations. Be it by Israel being victorious over those nations and thus being occupied by the people of God or by those nations conquering Israel and bringing them into their own nations and thus living among those who worship the Name of God. It is important that I begin in the Old Testament because the events are often overlooked as wrathful, angry reactions by God to His people and the nations surrounding Israel. But in reality, as I have briefly described here, the Old Testament bears witness to the large-scale, long-term mission trip of God. 
Many understand and see obviously the importance of missions in the New Testament. Jesus' coming was a mission to this world. Most of the New Testament was written by Paul the Apostle who is the world's greatest missionary. He calls and beckons believers to go out and to live among those who do not know God and to boldly live deliberately for God. Briefly reading through one of Paul's letters or the last few chapters of any of the four Gospels will show the evident and forceful call to missions.
Missions must also be done out of urgency. As Christians, we believe that the only way to Heaven and eternal life is by Jesus Christ. He is the narrow path, the door, the good Shepherd etc . . . And those who do not know Him and proclaim Him as Savior will perish. This should give us an urgency and a fire for spreading the Gospel unlike any other passion. Lives are hanging in eternal peril. But how do we do this? As Americans, we know only one language fluently, we are often bubbled off and painfully unfamiliar with other cultures and often dislike knowing or experiencing cultures that are different from the one we were raised in. 
Missions is something that cannot be done on a short-term level. Short-term, as defined by most mission agencies is two years or less. In our modern world, Islam is Christianity's largest, religious threat. This stands as such for many reasons but the Christian response has been wrong in so many places. We have often allowed our Christianity to be that of our political or national identity. We have become American Christians and are thus responding as such; with hatred, and violence and in so doing have aligned ourselves with everything we accuse them of. Our response as Christians should not be that of our country but of our Leader: Jesus Christ. He commanded us to love and care for our enemies. This is not a sort of religious, or political tolerance but obedience to God. We should be running toward the Islamic community where ever it may be. Where they sow hate, we ought to sow love; where they give death, we ought to point to life in abundance; where they say fear and uncertainty, we ought to proclaim hope, joy and assured deliverance; Where they say Allah, we say Jehovah. 
Missions is an inescapable calling for anyone who calls himself a Christian. It is to be centered on Jesus and His work on earth, which is in direct correlation to the work of God the Father since the beginning of time. Our mission is that of Paul the Apostle, which is that of Jesus the Son of God which is that of God the Father. 

1 comment:

Linda said...

This is a very good treatise on the subject, and I think you have gained particular insight. I am proud of you!

I'd like to send it to some family, but it'll be hard for them to read in the small font. Can you change it to medium for us? Thanks.

Love you!