Being sent and living missionally, are terms we are quite familiar with. But, have you ever stopped to think about what doing this looks like in your own life, and why it is important? I would suggest that it is important because Jesus’ call is “follow me”, and to walk in step with the Spirit that he has given us. When we are doing that, we are not just inwardly focused, but, as we see in Jesus’ example, we are looking outward to the needs around us.
Jesus sends his followers on mission. He told his disciples in John 20:21, “As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” In the Great Commission, at the end of the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells his followers, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
Paul reinforces the mission of the believer in 2 Corinthians 5, when he explains that Christ reconciled us to God and then gave us the ministry of reconciliation, entrusting us with the message of reconciliation, calling us ambassadors for Christ. This passage is directed toward all who are children of God, making it clear that believers are to live not just on a mission, but on the great mission that Christ has given us: imploring others to be reconciled to God through Jesus.
To help us apply this timeless mission to our contemporary lives, Veritas has designed a tool called the Everyday Missionary Guide. This tool is to help the churchgoer transform into an everyday missionary. You can purchase a copy of the Everyday Missionary Guide at the Resource Center for $2.
Luke 7:11-17 recalls when Jesus interrupted a funeral procession to bring back to life a widow’s only son:
11 Soon afterward he went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a great crowd went with him. 12 As he drew near to the gate of the town, behold, a man who had died was being carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow, and a considerable crowd from the town was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.” 14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother. 16 Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” 17 And this report about him spread through the whole of Judea and all the surrounding country.
Luke draws attention to the eyes of Jesus and how what he saw made him feel - “13 And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her and said to her, ‘Do not weep.’” Jesus noticed that this woman was a widow and that she was mourning the death of her only son. Being a widow meant that this woman's livelihood was now in jeopardy. She was in great distress, both in mourning her son and the uncertainty of her future. Jesus saw her and did not quickly pass by or ignore the widow’s pain. What he noticed led him to compassion. He entered into her pain and brokenness in a deeply empathetic way.
After truly noticing this woman in her sorrow, and having compassion on her, Jesus did something miraculous. The narrator continues, “14 Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.’ 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.” Jesus brought her son back to life and presented him to his mother! Let that sink in for a minute. Jesus brought her son back to life and gave him back to her. Jesus could have let this great crowd pass by, but he did not. We live in a fast-paced culture where it is easy to ignore or pretend we don’t see the hard things around us, or we’re just so busy that we’re running a full-out sprint past the effects of sin and brokenness around us. While we can’t bring those physically dead back to life, we can meet physical and spiritual needs of others when we are walking by his Spirit.
Jesus modeled what it practically looks like to live on mission, and he has also empowered us to notice, feel, do. By the power of the Spirit, we are able to notice others as fellow image-bearers and slow down to see them and their situation. What we see doesn’t just cause us to feel bad for them but to have the heart of Jesus to extend grace and love, and to bear with them in their affliction. Once we’ve slowed down enough to truly see and have compassion, we are empowered to love them with the love of Jesus and do something that both meets their need, creating space to enter into relationship and address their greatest need — their spiritual need, and point them to Jesus.
This isn’t complicated, in fact this is a simple formula. Here’s the catch: if you don’t start with prayer, asking God to show you the way he is calling you to step out in obedience in the power of his Spirit, you’re walking a dangerous line of simply trying to be a savior yourself. Jesus already died on the cross for the sin of the world, and so you are free from trying to fix everyone’s problems. Our call is to walk in humility and obedience to the One who has all authority in heaven and on earth by loving what he loves and doing what he has called us to do.
Let’s be people who continue to grow in love towards others as we notice, feel, do, all to the glory of God! Pick up your copy of the Everyday Missionary Guide and by God’s grace, get to work.