overview of Christian Missions
the Disciple of Christ
Roles, but Common goals: The
Christian faith and experience is so varied in the area of how
we serve. I find it frustrating at times, however, the Bible
teaches that God has called us to different servant experiences
according to how He made us. While our individual experience
is going to be different, there should also be a core that applies
to all of Christ's disciples, and that core should be our common
experience. Romans 12 is a great overview of this principle:
12:1-3 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God,
to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable
to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not
be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing
of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is,
that which is good and acceptable and perfect. For through the
grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more
highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as
to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure
then should be our common experience, right? Our bodies are
no longer are own, but are a sacrifice to Him that gives us
life. We must not be conformed to this world, but be transformed
by the renewing of our minds, but because we are transformed
by His grace, and nothing of our own doing, we must not think
too highly of ourselves for where we are in the process.
12:4-8 For just as we have many members in one body and all
the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many,
are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given
to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy,
according to the proportion of his faith; if service, in his
serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; or he who exhorts,
in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads,
with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
four through eight are encouraging us in our individual experience
based on our gifts, and telling us that our work will vary according
to how were made. All work for Him is valid and important to
Him if done for His glory
12 9-21 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling
to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love;
give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind
in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing
in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing
to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those
who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those
who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind
toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate
with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never
pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the
sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you,
be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved,
but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE
IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. "BUT IF YOUR
ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A
DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD."
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
nine through twenty-one focus back on our common experience
and especially our relationships with one another in light of
our different roles in the body. It is in the spirit
of my love for you, my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ,
and the acceptance of our different roles in the body, that
I want to understand Christian Missions. I also want to develop
and understanding what my role should be in light of my gifting,
and how that will play out in what I do and how I live.
Disciple of Christ: I
desire with all my heart to be a faithful follower of Christ
and I would like to be considered one of Christ's disciples.
Easton defines a Disciple of Christ as follows:
of Christ is one who (1.) believes his doctrine, (2.) rests
on his sacrifice, (3.) imbibes his spirit, and (4.) imitates
his example. Easton backs this definition with the following
scriptures: Mat 10:24 "No pupil is greater than his teacher;
no slave is greater than his master. Luk 14:26-27 "Those
who come to me cannot be my disciples unless they love me
more than they love father and mother, wife and children,
brothers and sisters, and themselves as well. Those who do
not carry their own cross and come after me cannot be my disciples".
Luk 14:33 In the same way, concluded Jesus, "none of
you can be my disciple unless you give up everything you have".
and Joh 6:69 And now we believe and know that you are the
Holy One who has come from God.
exciting, yet scary endeavor. I know I can only succeed with
this through the Grace of God in Christ.
Kinds of Disciples: Randy Alcorn has written extensively
on these issues as they relate to missions and the stewardship
of our resources. In an article entitled Choosing
A God-Honoring Lifestyle, Randy outlines two kinds of disciples
based on two Bible accounts.
kind of disciple is from the passage In Mark 1:16-20, where
Jesus called his first four disciples to leave their fishing
business to follow him.
disciples literally followed Jesus. To do so they left behind
there possessions, but Randy teaches that, "this
was neither inherently virtuous nor aimless. It was done with
a clear purpose in mind, in order to practically facilitate
the goal of the call. Christ's ministry was an itinerant one,
requiring a great deal of traveling. To follow him, the disciples
simply had to leave their boats and nets. The real point is
not that they left their boats, but that they followed Jesus.
That they left behind their major possessions was the inevitable
result of their response to his call to physically follow him."
points out that they apparently did not divest themselves of
all of their possessions. It seems likely that the boats used
for traveling throughout the Gospel accounts were the very boats
these disciples used previously in their fishing businesses
before their call to follow Jesus. This is substantiated by
the fact that Peter and several of the others were back in a
boat fishing again within days of Christ's death (John 21:1-3).
later said to his Lord, "We have left everything to follow
you" (Mark 10:28-30). He did not say, "We have sold
everything," though they may well have liquidated nearly
all of their major possessions (Luke 12:32-33). The point is,
they "left their possessions" to physically follow Christ.
concludes his teaching on this passage with the observation that,
"The apostles were a distinct historical group who have no
direct equivalent today. Nonetheless, I believe we can look at
them as representatives of a particular calling of God to traveling
missionary work. Such work necessitates leaving behind major possessions
that would tie us to a specific location and prohibit our ability
to go where Jesus calls us".
Second Kind of Disciple: Mark said that Jesus "saw Levi
son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector's booth. 'Follow
me,' Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him" (Mark
2:14). Randy states that, "we are not told Jesus commanded
him to sell his possessions and give to the poor. On the contrary,
in the very next verse Jesus and the disciples are having a dinner
party in Levi's house, along with many other tax collectors and
"sinners." Levi's house is used to introduce many people
to Jesus. Given his profession and the number of people at the
party, it was no doubt nicer and larger than the average house".
teaches that this is not merely an acceptable use of possessions
but an explicitly God-ordained one. Levi represented a second
type of missionary activity that does not involve divesting oneself
of all one's possessions but utilizing them for the same ultimate
cause of those called to the itinerant ministry.
long after the account in Levi's home, while large crowds were
following Jesus, he went up into the hills and chose twelve of
his followers to be his apostles (Mark 3:13-19). This unique group
would join him in his itinerant ministry, traveling, preaching,
and casting out demons. But only these twelve were chosen to travel
with him. Others of the large crowds were not chosen as apostles
but still remained his disciples.
asks, "where did these 'disciples-but-not-apostles'go?. Where
else but back to their families and homes and jobs! Just as Jesus
had for many years served as a carpenter, owning a house and tools
and likely a workshop, and lived on a piece of land, so they were
to serve God, raising their families, living and working in their
the majority of Christ's followers did not rid themselves of all
their possessions, nor were they expected to do so. There were
two callings of Christ-one to leave family and possessions behind,
and one to go back to them. But both callings served the same
ultimate purpose-the glory of God and the advance of his kingdom.
the Two Calls of Christ:: In a probing call to discipleship,
Jesus said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny
himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants
to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for
me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man
to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man
give in exchange for his soul?"(Mark 8:34-37)
observes that "the number of economic terms in these few
verses is striking-save, lose, gain, forfeit, give, and exchange.
Every disciple of Jesus is given a radical call as to how he views
and handles his money and possessions and every other facet of
his life. Whether one has been called to leave his possessions
behind for kingdom purposes or to retain ownership for generous
and sacrificial kingdom purposes, he must keep in mind that a
wrong view of material gain in this world will lure him away from
the next. The money and possessions of the present will be of
no use on the day his soul is laid bare before his Creator. On
that day, money and possessions will be seen as either having
facilitated his mission or having blurred or hindered it".
Randy Alcorn's full article see: Choosing
A God-Honoring Lifestyle at the Eternal
Perspective Ministries website. Randy has many articles on-line
on the subject of missions listed at: http://epm.org/missions.html
where am I in all this? In June of 2002
I was visiting with a small group of men in preparation for praying
together. These are the men of the group my wife and I have attended
now for the last several years (thankfully our church, Christian
Community Church in Murray, KY, encourages small group participation
in order to facilitate more intimate fellowship and accountability).
That night, our group facilitator mentioned that he felt that
God had something for us beyond the experience we had currently
enjoyed in the group. He didn't really know what, but something
bigger, something more.
felt the Holy Spirit's prodding
(at least I think it was Him) to say what I had
been feeling for a long while. I simply do not find my experience,
even as a committed Christian, is really anything like what I
see written about in the New Testament. And that it appeared to
me that the
majority of Christian experiences (at
least in this country) are
the same as mine was. I explained that I thought we were all holding
back, not wanting to give God all of our lives, and not wanting
to make some of the hard changes that needed to be made for Him
to be Lord of our lives.
we were hedging our bets, not wanting to give everything up due
to a lack of faith in what God would do with us if we did give
our lives completely over to Him. I'm not really sure why we hold
back, but we certainly seem too; at least most of the Christians
I know do. I also think that is why we don't see our lives having
more of an impact on the lost.
dear friend shared that he had experienced a level of fellowship
and intimacy in a youth group several years ago that he had never
experienced as an adult, and that he longed to be in a deeper
more committed environment like the one he had experienced back
then. He said it was empowering, he felt braver and bolder and
more sure of what he was doing.
excellent discussion followed, and it was obvious to me that the
Holy Spirit was right there with us, and I don't often feel that
way even though I know He is with us always. I felt an undeniable
power present beyond what any of us had to bring ourselves, and
He was encouraging us in this probing discussion.
prayed, and in my part of the prayer time that night I repented
of holding back, especially in the area of truly loving my fellow
Christians, and yielding to the kind of involvement and fellowship
with them we see in the New Testament accounts. I also prayed
that God would give me the strength to change. I was scared of
giving Him everything, and I still am, only now I'm also excited
about the change in my life as a result of taking steps in the
right direction. Truly loving my brothers and sisters in Christ
--that was the immediately apparent area I was holding back in
--and yet now I know that that was only one of many more areas
to follow, and perhaps there are many more yet to come.
the loving one another issue it was the area of stewardship.
Click the link for lots more on stewardship! Now it's missions.
How are we to live in light of the great needs out there, most
of which are not in Murray, KY, or even in the US! Yes, I know
there is a lot to do here at home, especially in the inner cities.
God's work is where ever we are. It's sometimes hard to see the
work at home though, especially while engrossed in our daily obligations.
group of us from CCC went
on a mission
trip to Mexico with Way of The
Cross. During that week we lived together; we worshiped, studied,
and prayed together; we worked together building a church building,
and we shared our faith with the lost together. For that week,
at least to me, it felt like we were living our lives like the
Christians described in the New Testament lived. It was a great
experience and I miss it! Each morning we rose early for some
time alone with God, and one morning I wrote the following in
my notes while reflecting on what was happening to me:
I feel like I need much more of this in my life. I want to serve
God full-time. If I can't see my way to do that through full-time
missions, I want to be much better about serving Him at work,
at home in Murray, and by taking more short term missions trips.
I also want to stay in touch with and support those who have
been sent out to the field.
has opened my eyes. This trip has been yet another step in God
changing me through the awakening that started last summer.
His sanctification of me has escalated as a result of His grace
in showing me areas in my life where I had not offered Him Lordship,
in fact I was holding back. Namely in the areas of the stewardship
of my time and money, and my lack of desire to fellowship with,
and truly love my brothers and sisters in Christ.
I repent of my lukewarmness in these areas. I want to make You
Lord of all. Show me the way to walk, to live, and to serve
you dear Jesus. Show me how I can have an impact for Your Kingdom.
Lord God, help me to hold back nothing from you, but to give
you my best, and my all.
dear readers, I find myself here in Murray wondering how to be
a full-time missionary while also keeping all the plates spinning
with my work and family. I think the key is to develop a missionary
mindset, whether we are in the mission field or the work place,
in or our homes and communities or in deepest Africa. God's work
is wherever we are if we will just open our eyes to it!
that short term mission trips like the one I was on in Mexico
with Way of the Cross are a great way to discover this missionary
mindset, or to renew one. Through God's grace I plan make many
more of these trips and make them a priority in my life. I'm also
committed to finding more ways to help with missions while I'm
at home, and to doing more here with a missionary mind set. I
also think the close daily contact with my fellow Christians was
a big factor on the trip, and what I brought home from it, so
I'm hoping to make that a part of life here somehow too.
you dear Jesus for Your grace and for allowing us, Your fallen
but redeemed creation, to work with You and for You; working in
what You alone have empowered us to do through Your justification
of our lives; through Your gifting of us, and Your sanctification
of us. Please lead us dear Lord in how and where we are to proceed
with Your work. In the name of Your most precious Son, Jesus Christ,
here to visit the page about the Way
of the Cross missions trip on my site, or click the here for
the CCC WOTC Missions
Wingfold, Curate, written by George MacDonald in 1876 (recently
published under, "The Curate's Awakening") MacDonald
writes about a young curate who has suddenly discovered that he
is "unsure of many things which are taken for granted concerning
clergymen". I think many of us who call ourselves Christians
also taking some things for granted, even about ourselves. I have
just read the second to the last chapter of this book and feel
compiled to quote a passage from it here because it speaks so
eloquently to the lukewarm experience I am awakening from as I
have tried to describe above. Hang with it if you will, the really
relaxant part for me is at the end, although it is all excellent,
and you need it for context. In fact, you need the entire book.
I think it is one of his best in terms of his theology woven into
the story line:
time, my hearers," he began, "to bring to a close
this period of uncertainty about the continuation of our
relationship together. As you are well aware, in the springtime
of this year I felt compelled to think through whether I
could in good faith go on as a servant of the church. For
very dread of the honesty of an all-knowing God, I forced
myself to break through the established conventions of the
church and speak to you of my most private thoughts. I told
you I was unsure of many things which are taken for granted
concerning clergymen. Since then, as I have wrestled with
these issues, I have tried to show you the best I saw, yet
I dared not say I was sure of anything. An I have kept those
of you who cared to follow my path acquainted with the progress
of mental history. An now I come to tell you the practical
result at which I have arrived.
"First, I tell you that I will not forsake my curracy,
still less my right and duty to teach whatever I seem to
know. But I must not convey the impression that all my doubts
are suddenly gone. All I now can say is that in the story
of Jesus I have seen grandeur--to me altogether beyond the
reach of human invention, and real hope for man. At the
same time, from the attempt to obey the recorded as his,
I have experienced a great enlargement of my mind and a
deepening of my moral strength and a wonderful increase
of faith, hope and love toward all men. Therefore, I now
declare with the consent of my whole man-- I cast my lot
with the servants of the Crucified. If they be deluded,
then I am content to share in their delusion, for to me
it is the truth of the God of men. I will stand or fall
with the story of my Lord. I speak not in irreverence, but
in honesty. I will take my chance of failure or success
in this life or the life to come on the words and the will
of the Lord Jesus Christ. Impressed as I am with the truth
of his nature, the absolute devotion of his life and the
essential might of his being if I yet obey him not, I shall
not only deserve to perish, but in that very refusal I would
draw ruin upon my own head. Before God I say it--I would
rather be crucified with that man than reign with an earthly
king over a kingdom of millions. On such grounds as these
I hope I am justified in declaring myself a disciple of
the Son of Man and in devoting my life and the renewed energy
of my being to his brothers and sisters of my race. Henceforth,
I am not in holy orders as a professional clergyman,
but under holy order as the servant of Christ Jesus
"And if any man would still say that because of my
lack of absolute assurance I have no right to the sacred
post, I answer let him cast the first stone who has never
been assailed by such doubts as mine. And if such doubts
have never been yours, if perhaps your belief is but the
shallow absence of doubt, then you must ask yourself a question.
Do you love your faith so little that you have never battled
a single fear lest your faith should not be true? For what
are doubts but the strengthening building blocks toward
summits of yet higher faith in him who always leads us into
the high places? Where there are no doubts, no questions,
no perplexities, there can be no growth into the regions
where he would have us walk. Doubts are the only means through
which he can enlarge our spiritual selves.
borne with me in my trails, and I thank you. One word more
to those who call themselves Christians among you but who,
as I so recently did myself, present such a withered idea
of Christianity that they cause the truth to hang its head
rather than ride forth on a white horse to conquer the world
for Jesus. You dull the luster of the truth in the eyes
of men. You do not represent that which it is, but yet you
call yourselves by its name . You are not the salt of the
earth, but a salt that has lost its savor. I say these things
not to judge you, for I was one of you such a short time
ago. But I say to you simply, it is time to awake! Until
you repent and believe afresh, believe in a nobler Christ,
namely the Christ of history and the Christ of the Bible
rather than the vague form which false interpretations of
men have substituted for him--until you believe in him rightly
you will continue to be the main reason why faith is so
scanty on the earth. And whether you do in some sense believe
or not, one fact remains--while you are not a Christian
who obeys the word of the master, doing [emphasis
his] the things he says rather than merely listening to
them, talking about them, and holding certain opinions about
them, then you will be one of those to whom he will say,
'I never knew you: go forth into the outer darkness.'
unspeakable joy and contentment awaits you when you, like
St. Paul, can be crucified with Christ, to live no more
from your own self but to be thereafter possessed with the
same faith toward the Father in which Jesus lived and did
the will of the Father. Truly our destiny is a glorious
one--because we have a God supremely grand, all-perfect.
Unity with him alone can be the absolute bliss for which
we were created. Therefor I say to you, as I say to myself:
awaken your spirits, and give your hearts and souls to him!
For this you were created by him, and to this we are called--every
Amen and Amen.....