What’s our purpose? Why are we here? How can we know for certain that we are doing the things in life that really matter and that will make a difference instead of just muddling through life? For most of my life as a preacher of the gospel of Christ, as a husband, father, grandfather, citizen and at times a businessman it has been the case that our mission for whichever place one might be considering was self-evident. In the years when I was managing a real-estate business I seldom thought of writing out a mission statement for the business, since it seemed obvious to me that our mission was to manage and sell real estate. In interviewing a huge number of potential real estate agents through the years, I never had one to asked, “now what is it that you do in the real estate business?” They might not understand how the process worked or even what would be required of them in getting the job done, but they seemed to arrive in the office knowing what we were trying to accomplish and to understand that if we didn’t sell a certain quota of houses on a regular basis we wouldn’t be in business for very long.
Through most of my life as a husband and father in the family relationship it has seemed clear what the mission of the family was all about. We recognized that we were there to train and help our children grow up to become productive members of society. It never seemed to cross our minds that what was required of us to make the family what it ought to be might be too much to ask of us.
It is getting close to fifty years that I’ve been preaching and through almost that whole time I’ve served as the preacher for some church. I’ve been blessed to have served usually with a church for an extended period of time. It has only been in the last half of that effort in ministry that I’ve heard people talk about the need for a written mission statement for each local church. Now let me be clear, it hasn’t been the case that we only learned about mission or missions in those recent days. We had a clear grasp of our mission as Christians and the mission of the local church as a body. We understood that what God had said in his word for us to do either individually as Christians or as a local body of believers was our mission and that it wasn’t some personal choice we had as to whether we would follow the Lord’s teaching on what to do or not. If we were to be Christians or to be his church we had to do what he said for us to do.
But somewhere down the line it seemed to change and doing the mission of the church seemed to become a specialized thing that was carried out by a few people rather than by every Christian. More and more the work of God was divided into different categories and people chose which aspect of the Lord’s work they would be involved in. It is certainly true that we have different gifts in our work for God and some are better as some things than others. But there are many aspects of living for God and being his church that are the job of every Christian and every time we do that work we are carrying out God’s mission for the body or church and are thus serving as missionaries for him. I know the word “missionary” isn’t found in the Bible and that it is an adopted word to apply to someone on a mission for the Lord. But its a good word. I just believe we have used it far, far too narrowly. If I go to the business where I have a job each day and live a godly life on that job, sharing with others around me the good news about Jesus every opportunity I get, I am serving as God’s missionary to that place of business. If I go to a school either as a student or as a teacher and each day live as a Christian in that school, helping those who struggle and hurt in the name of the Lord and I tell people I’m around about the Lord I serve, then I’m serving as God’s missionary to that school. If I work at a hospital or doctor’s office whatever the capacity and there live as a Christian and show compassion for others in their problems and tell them about my Savior and Lord as I have the opportunity then I’m serving as a missionary for God in that hospital. Even if I’m a politician and I’m working each day among the legislators, conducting myself as a Christian, working to do good for my community and telling others about my Lord then I’m being a missionary to the government in which I serve. Every Christian, everywhere who lives the Christian life, has a heart for people and for God and who tells others about the Lord is serving as a missionary to their world.
I believe with all my heart in supporting missionaries around the world. But I believe even more in each Christian being a missionary to the world in which they live each day. We can’t possibly support enough missionaries to change the world if we as individual Christians aren’t being missionaries to our own world regularly.
Let us take care to be on mission for God every day in every way with every one we are around.