There has never been a time when God wasn’t involved in sending people on a mission for Him. In Isaiah 6 the prophet, in the year King Uzziah died, saw God high and lifted up in the temple. The Seraphim were declaring, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty. The whole earth is full of his glory.” Isaiah was so moved he cried out “Woe is me. I am undone. I am a man of unclean lips and dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.” God sent one of the seraphim to touch his lips with a coal of fire from the altar. Then Isaiah heard God saying, “Who will go for us and who can we send?” Isaiah responded, “Here I am, send me.” But if you think through the Old Testament you can think of tons of times when God sent different people on a mission for him. He sent Jonah to Nineveh. He sent Jeremiah to his own people. He sent Amos to Israel from his Sycamore farm. He sent Samuel to Saul on different occasions and to David on others.
In the New Testament, Jesus called twelve men that he named apostles who were ones he sent on a mission for him. They were to be his ambassadors to the world. We speak of people being missionaries, even though the Bible never uses that word, the idea is to send people on a mission for the Lord. Sometimes God sent people on a mission in some very strange ways. He sent Joseph to Egypt by allowing his brothers to sell him to a band of Ishmaelite’s who carried him to Egypt and sold him as a slave to a man named Potiphar a soldier in the Pharaoh’s army. He was lied about and sent to prison for several years, even though he hadn’t committed a crime. But it was all getting him ready for a mission God had for him to save his people from famine. He sent Daniel and his three friends as Jewish boys to Babylon where they were trained in all the ways of the Babylonians. Daniel spent his life on God’s mission for him in this strange land. When Babylon was captured he became a leader among the Meads and Persians. He worked as an advisor to the rulers of Babylon but God had him on a mission to that world all the time.
In the New Testament one of my favorite discussions on the whole concept of sending is in the Book of Acts chapter 8. Persecution arose in the church in Jerusalem. Stephen was the first Christian to be stoned to death for his faith in Jesus. But his death led to persecution that pushed many of these new Christians in that city to go to other places sharing the good news of Jesus. “The disciples were scattered and went about preaching the word.” As one illustration he told about Philip, who had been a deacon in Jerusalem going to Samaria and preaching Christ there. He had a great work in Samaria and many were converted to Christ, among them a magician named Simon. He needed some further teaching a little later but became a disciple nonetheless. Then God sent him out into a deserted area to meet an Ethiopian who was returning from Jerusalem to his home land and was interested in God. He met him, taught him the gospel and baptized him out in the deserted area. Then God sent him to Caesarea where he would live for the rest of his life as far as we know. He married at some point and he and his wife had four daughters whom they brought up to be workers in God’s kingdom. All of them became prophets of the word as well.
Sometimes we don’t get sent to the places we would like to go. Think of Jesus casting the demons from the man called Legion. After he was saved, healed and changed, he wanted to go with Jesus and be one of the apostles or at least a traveling missionary with him. Jesus instead told him to go back to his own people and tell them what great things God had done for him. It probably didn’t seem nearly as glamorous to go back home and talk to people who knew his past. But it was God’s call on the matter.
There are some places God sends all of us. If we are married he sends all of us to our home and family with a mission to live for him among those whom we love and who love us. If we are parents we are all sent to our own children to bring them up in the ways of the Lord. It never makes sense to neglect the family God gives us to go and work with those with whom we have no real connection. If you are working around people every day in some industry or job situation, you can be certain God has sent you to be among them as their missionary to show them what God has done in your life and can do in theirs.
There are two huge points that everyone must learn if they are to be effective as God’s “Sent ones” into the world. First, the message we try to deliver must be demonstrated by the way we live everyday. To try to tell others how to live for God when I’m not living it serves to push people away rather than draw them toward the Lord. Our actions always speak louder than our words. We must “BE” first and then “TELL”. The second absolutely necessary thing is that if I am God’s messenger I must tell his word. Influence is powerful. But the gospel message has to be shared with people for them to learn it.
If we aren’t living and telling the message of the Lord where we are now, with the people we now know and love, then the prospect of our doing so in a different part of the world with different people is extremely slim. I wonder how the Lord feels when people talk about what they have done in some part of the world away from here but do nothing about reaching the ones whom they are around every day. I wonder how God reacts when we constantly talk about what we are going to do once we get to some area or place where we believe God wants us to go, but we make no effort to reach out to the people who are all around us right now.
God is calling you to be one of his sent ones. If it is to the other side of the world, make preparation to go and do what he has called you to do. But don’t wait until you get there to begin telling others about His love and grace for them. Your mission is always right in front of you, should you decide to accept it.