To provide a little preface, this is a lengthy post, but the Spirit of God is ALL OVER THIS. I believe in this next excerpt, that you–as I was and remain–will be challenged, torn, and stirred up (hopefully in all the right ways) to how we’re living our lives and the “parallel” that God is calling us to.
I pray you will receive this with a motivated heart to bring God glory in this world.
Taken from David Platt’s book Radical: Taking Back Your Faith From the American Dream (p.72-75).
I wonder if we have in some ways intentionally and in other ways unknowingly erected lines of defense against the global purpose God has for our lives. It’s not uncommon to hear Christians say, “Well, not everyone is called to foreign missions,” or more specifically, “I am not called to foreign missions.” When we say this, we are usually referring to foreign missions as an optional program in the church for a faithful few who apparently are called to that. In this mind-set, missions is a compartmentalized program of the church, and select folks are good at missions and passionate about missions. Meanwhile, the rest of us are willing to watch the missions slide shows when the missionaries come home, but in the end God has just not called most of us to do this missions thing.
But where in the Bible is missions ever identified as an optional program in the church? We have just seen that we are all created by God, saved from our sins, and blessed by God to make His glory known in all the world. Indeed, Jesus himself has not merely called us to go to all nations; He has created us and commanded us to go to all nations. We have taken this command, though, and reduced it to a calling–something that only a few people receive.
I find it interesting that we don’t do this with other words from Jesus. We take Jesus’ command in Matthew 28 to make disciples of all nations, and we say, “That means other people.” But we look at Jesus’ command in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” and we say, “Now, that means me.” We take Jesus’ promise in Acts 1:8 that the Spirit will lead us to the ends of the earth, and we say, “That means some people.” But we take Jesus’ promise in John 10:10 that we will have abundant life, and we say, “That means me.”
In the process we have unnecessarily (and unbiblically) drawn a line of distinction, assigning the obligations of Christianity to a few while keeping the privileges of Christianity for us all. In this was we chose to send off other people to carry out the global purpose of Christianity while the rest of us sit back because we’re “just not called to that.”
Now, we know that each of us has different gifts, different skills, different passions, and different callings from God. God has gifted you and me in different ways. This was undoubtedly the case with the disciples. Peter and Paul had different callings. James and John had different callings. However, each follower of Christ in the New Testament, regardless of his or her calling, was intended to take up the mantle of proclaiming the gospel to the ends of the earth. That’s the reason why He gave each of them His Spirit and why He gave them all the same plan: make disciples of all nations.
Isn’t it the same today? When I sit down for lunch with Steve, a businessman in our faith family, it’s obvious we have different callings in our lives. He’s an accountant; I’m a pastor. He is gifted with numbers; I can’t stand numbers. But we both understand that God has called us and gifted us for a global purpose. So Steve is constantly asking, “How can I lead my life, my family, and my accounting firm for God’s glory in Birmingham and around the world?” He is leading co-workers to Christ; he is mobilizing accountants to serve the poor; and his life is personally impacting individuals and churches in Latin America, Africa, and Eastern Europe with the gospel.
Steve and others like him have decided that they are not going to take the command of Christ to make disciples of all nations and label it a calling for a few. They are not going to sit on the sidelines while a supposed “special class” of Christians accomplishes the global purpose of God. They are convinced that God has created them to make His glory known in all nations, and they are committing their lives to accomplishing that purpose.
In Romans 1:14-15, Paul talks about being a debtor to the nations. He literally says, “I am in debt to Jews and Gentiles.” The language is profound. Paul is saying that he owes a debt to every lost person this side of hell. We owe Christ to the world–to the least person and to the greatest person, to the best person and to the worst person. We are in debt to the nations. Encompassed with this debt, though, in our contemporary approach to missions, we have subtly taken ourselves out from under the weight of a lost and dying world, wrung our hands in pious concern, and said, “I’m sorry. I’m just not called to that.”
The result is tragic. A majority of individuals supposedly saved from eternal damnation by the gospel are now sitting back and making excuses for not sharing the gospel with the rest of the world.
But what if we don’t need to sit back and wait for a call to foreign missions? What if the very reason we have breath is because we have been saved for a global mission? And what if anything less than passionate involvement in global mission is actually selling God short by frustrating the very purpose for which He created us?