Monday, November 16, 2009

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: Called to Missions

The Pastor’s Perspective
Vol. 30 Num. 7
“Called to Missions”

We are now in the midst of our annual Missions Conference [editor's note: this was originally published in February of 1997]. What a blessing it is to hear God’s Word proclaimed with a view to building a missionary spirit in our hearts. As Henry Martyn once said “The Spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions, and the nearer we get to Him the more intensely missionary we must become.” Last week, we said that missions “is the work of Christ through the Church to call all the peoples of the earth to Himself by repentance and faith, and to make them His disciples, and through baptism to incorporate them into His body (the Church).”

All Christians are called to this task, this purpose. We may not be called in the same way, to the same particular job, or to the same region of ministry, but --let us be clear about it-- we are called to be witnesses to Christ in the world. As it is said: “No Christian is outside our Lord’s last command.” Whether one is a faithful CPA or homemaker in Jackson, bearing witness to the truth, or a lifetime missionary to Brazil, we are all called to be witnesses.

During this week you will have been encouraged to become involved in the missionary activity of the church. No doubt, many of those addressing you will remind you that you can be involved by praying, giving, and going. This is true. But I want to be more specific.

Whenever God prepares to employ someone in His service, He changes that person (think of Saul/Paul). He creates a new heart (new character, new priorities, new desires) in that person, out of which all their activities naturally flow. Our involvement, then, in the activities of witness is a natural expression of our union with Christ. We are His and He is ours, and so we live and speak in light of that relationship. So, the first way we can become involved in missions is to remember who we are (what God has made us). We are witnesses, by definition. But what does this mean, practically, for our involvement in missions. Well, it means at least five things.

1. We are to be witnesses to the truth of the Gospel: it has radically changed our lives. Do we live in such a way that our neighbors can see that we believe the claims of Christ in His Scriptures really matter? Do we ever enter into conversation with them about spiritual things?

2. We are to be witnesses to the saving Lordship of Christ: He has redeemed us and rules over us. Can those who know us best see a difference in our lives? Does it show in our choices and priorities?

3. We are to be witnesses to the power of grace to sanctify: we now walk in the way of holiness. Are we good examples to our families and friends? Could we say to them “do as I do”?

4. We are to be witnesses to Christ in the midst of our community and culture: He has placed us here to be a living testimony to the Truth. Are we looking for ways to impact our culture, our business, our social circles, with the Gospel?

5. We are to be witnesses to Christ to our neighbors: in our love and integrity and informal speech we show forth the good news of salvation. Do we practice radical hospitality? Do we befriend those from “the wrong side of the tracks” for the sake of the Gospel? Do we seek the best interest of others, despite the personal cost? Do we reach out and welcome strangers at Church, and invite them into our homes?

Well then, that’s who we are: we are His witnesses. Every Christian is a witness to Christ (it is not an option, it is who we are!). And so, the only question is: “will I be a good witness or a bad one?” Dear ones, let us pray and let us give and let us go -- but let us be, ourselves, the witnesses that God has intended us to be.

Your fellow missionary,

Ligon Duncan

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