“Every Christian is either a missionary or an impostor.” – Charles Spurgeon
Do you agree with this statement? If you are reading this today and you consider yourself a follower of Jesus, would you also consider yourself a missionary? Most people think of missionaries as people that move across the world or that raise money and go on trips for weeks at a time, however I don’t think it’s just for them.
The response is always the same. From month to month I’ll lead a neighborhood engagement training at churches across Orange County and the response is the same wherever I go. One of the first questions I’ll always ask a room before we begin is: “Who in here is a missionary? If you’re a missionary, raise your hand.” Usually, less than 5% of the room will raise it’s hand. I’ll then ask, “Who in here is a follower of Jesus…raise your hand.” The rest of the room then raises it’s hand. I’ll then proceed attempting to convince the listeners of their true identities. I’d like to do the same for you here…
In John 1:14 the Bible says that the Word became flesh and blood and dwelt among us. In the Message version it says, the Word became flesh and moved into the neighborhood. It’s a divine and beautiful picture of how God’s grace entered our world. God himself put on the skin of man and left the perfection of Heaven. Christ humbled himself to the likes of man and came here to rescue us from our sin and show us the Kingdom of God. Simply put, Jesus came here as a missionary for you and me. As we believe in Him, we receive Christ into our lives and the old passes away. Colossians 3:3 says “I’ve died to the life, but my real life is hidden with Christ in God.” Paul shows us that God gives us new life. Galatians 2:20 says “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
These passages among many others point us to a clear new life and identity God has given us. Our old life is dead, and our new life is lived out with Christ in us. The rest of our lives we are working out our salvation and becoming more and more like Christ (also called sanctification). The more we become like Christ, the more we think, respond, and act like him while living here on earth.
But let me say it again… Christ came to us as a missionary. This means that we too are missionaries as we are becoming more and more like Him. As this truth settles, the question we must begin to ask ourselves is this: If this is true of us, then why is it that don’t we live as missionaries? Why do we only consider those who leave to far off places as missionaries? I think it’s because of how we see ourselves and our identities. If the everyday Irvine Christian plumber saw himself as a missionary, his purpose at work would look different. If a grade school teacher in Orange County saw herself as a missionary, she’d have a new vision for her students. If a CEO in Newport Beach saw himself as a missionary, perhaps his entire company would be set apart for Kingdom purposes. As a neighbor, if you began seeing your community as a mission field, perhaps your neighbors would experience God’s hope, restoration, and Kingdom at hand.
I think it starts by knowing who we are. We are not plumbers, teachers, or CEO’s. We are Sons and daughters of God who happen to work as such. We have have been given new identities; perhaps understanding it could help us change the world.
So what do you believe about yourself? Are you believing what God says is true of you? Or do you think the whole missionary thing is for those others who have been “called?” Reconsider Charles Spurgeon’s words at the beginning of this blog and ask yourself which of the two you are, because you can only be one. For both of our sakes, I hope it’s a missionary.
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