When you hear the word “missions”, what is the first thing that you think of?
Better yet, was it a third world country you just thought of? If so, which one?
Kenya? Indonesia? Haiti?
Growing up in church, you probably heard the well-known phrase coming from Matthew 28:16-20. That’s right, you guessed it: the Great Commission.
And if you didn’t grow up in the church, you may still have seen the pictures of a friend on social media with all of the cute children from the same third world countries that you just imagined.
But what does it really mean to be a missionary? And why do we do it?
“Now wherever you go, make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And teach them to faithfully follow all that I have commanded you.” – Mathew 28:16-20 (The Great Commission)
This portion of scripture has also been known as “the sending” or “the call to missions”. Jesus’s words and departure, along with the coming of the Holy Spirit shortly after, sparked a new era in world history where Christ’s followers would spread His glorious gospel to the ends of the earth.
However, there is a phrase that is often misinterpreted: “all nations.” Many people read the word “all”, but don’t believe it includes where they live. Somehow in the midst of translation to our brains, ‘all the world’ becomes ‘only the countries in poverty’, ‘only the ones with different religions’, or ‘only the ones with unreached people groups’.
The truth is that missions isn’t just for the “radical” person in your church that wants to give up everything to live in a small village overseas. Missions is for everyone. The Great Commission isn’t just for the one being sent to the village but also for the one being sent to work in a factory, the business world, the fast food industry and even as a stay-at-home parent.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM CALLED TO MISSIONS?
When Jesus sent His disciples out, He didn’t give exceptions. It was to all people and all nations. This means that missions can no longer be considered a place that we go but instead it’s a lifestyle we live wherever we are.
Missions has to be us choosing to live a life that reflects the lifestyle of Jesus. It has to be us choosing to step outside of our personal worlds on a daily basis in order to better the lives of everyone around us. It is us choosing to make disciples instead of mapping our next destination or finding followers.
WHEN DO I START BEING A MISSIONARY?
Hear me out: domestic and foreign mission trips are necessary for the expansion of the gospel. As a profession, I am honored to lead hundreds of short-term mission trips a year in the city of Atlanta. I am also honored to be a part of foreign missions through Atlanta Dream Center Church. However, let me be clear in telling you that our mission started the moment that we said, “Yes” to Christ, not because we finally made it to a specific destination.
Christ calls us His Ambassadors. This simply means that the whole world is a “foreign missions trip” that you and I have been asked to join. Scripture tells us that we are in this world but not of it.
I encourage you to take a moment right now. Think of your typical day. Who do you see? What people do you encounter? Friends? Family? Co-workers?
Now think again, who of those people don’t yet know Christ? Is it your friend who believes in something but doesn’t know what to call “it”? Is it your co-worker that has had a rough life and blames God for everything wrong with the world? Is it your family member that doesn’t understand why you are “wasting your life on this nonsense”?
If you can’t answer these questions, think about why. We all struggle with the daily grind that can cause us to become apathetic to those around us. These people somehow became unintentional exceptions to the missional call on our lives.
I want to leave you with one truth and one question.
Truth: Every single person you encounter throughout the rest of your life is worthy of the gospel and in need of Jesus.
Question: What are you doing about it today?
I pray today that we would pursue the world around us not with fear, but instead with a perseverance that pushes past our apathy towards the call of the Great Commission.