Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Missional Thinking

“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (II Corinthians 5:20 NIV)

“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13 NIV)

Last week, I met with a graduate student who recently accepted a full-time position with the university. She had been working as a grad assistant when the position came open and her supervisor suggested she formally apply for it. It is rather a remarkable thing for any university department to hire a current grad student to a full-time position while they are still a student. After graduation, yes, but before? Hardly ever. In talking with her, it was clear why this opportunity came to her.

This young woman, from early on in her college career, has been thinking missionally about her life. She has always been an excellent student and worker. And the reason is she sees herself as an ambassador for Jesus. She sees herself representing Him in whatever she does. It is her mission in life. 

Missional thinking is rare among Christians. Yes, they try to live good lives, go to church, and maybe get involved in a small group Bible study or prayer group, but, for most, those are just pieces of their lives among others, such as work, school, and social interaction. For missional Christians, their lives are centered on the mission of being an ambassador, a messenger, representing their King. They look for opportunities wherever they are to either overtly or subtly communicate the message of God’s love and His desire that all people find salvation through Jesus (I Timothy 2:4-6).

I say it is rare because most Christians think this is the pastor’s or missionary’s job, something that is best left to the professionals. Yet, Paul is very clear to the Ephesian church that the responsibility does not lie with them alone; rather, it lies with all of us who choose to follow Jesus. And it makes sense. How many people can a pastor or missionary reach alone? Now consider what the difference would be if a pastor’s congregation of 200 or 15,000, or a missionary’s few converts, were trained to think of themselves as ambassadors of Christ and went out looking for opportunities, large and small, to spread the message of King Jesus. 

I am not talking of thousands of believers heading out to the nearest street corners and preaching the gospel to strangers. I am talking about people, like the grad student I mentioned above, going to their places employment, the grocery store, or the gym with the intent of making the message of Jesus known, whether by asking someone how their day is going, offering a word of encouragement, or actually taking the opportunity when asked of explaining why they are so different in how they live life. And trust me, people will take notice of those who are living out their faith in every day life.

What about you? Are you thinking missionally about your life? Are you looking for opportunities daily to make Jesus known through what you say and how you live? If not, you are missing the point of being a follower of Jesus. He came that all people might be saved. He loved us to the point of death. And He has explicitly given us a mission to take that message to the world in which we live out our daily lives. Today, what can you do to begin fulfilling your mission?

© Jim Musser 2018

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