The deeper I delve into the Christian journey, the more tangled my thoughts become. And then after that. Clarity.
I like to think I am an honest person. Forthright and straight-shooting. I’ll acknowledge that such qualities tend to get me into trouble. I can be easily tagged as the naysayer. Or the pessimist. And I suppose I’ve come to terms with that. I don’t consider myself such things, but I can understand how one can come to such a conclusion. I don’t like it, but hey, what can you do?
In turn, I like best the people who speak honestly and with authenticity. I don’t know if it makes me old-fashioned or what, but I’d like to think people really mean what they say. But so many people don’t. I’d like to take compliments and encouraging words at face value, but they are often not worthy of such taking. And where the church community is concerned, I’d like to think our catchphrases and cool, religious sounding taglines really have meat to them. But often, they are ways to direct our thinking into some action that may or may not be really sanctioned by God for our lives.
What is Mission
Take the phrase: “Know to whom you have been sent.”
Now. Most often, such a phrase is used in a missions context. MISSION, being the word of the collective Christian Community this past year, is something of a mystery. Or it is at least dubious. If I had to define the word in my own terms, I’d say mission is the acting out of God’s directive for your life. If I’m correct, then certainly means Mission is, justifiably, dubious in that it may take on different forms for different Christians based on what God is doing in their lives that moment. And all of that, in relation to the purpose for which God has placed that person on this earth.
Personal purpose is directly tied to mission. The orders must come from God, not from community focus and expectation from your local church body, and their leadership. Not from society or cultural pressure.
So then, when the church asks us to “know to whom we’ve been sent,” it must assume a great responsibility. The directive of the ministers of the church body is simply to facilitate and equip its members to act out on the mission God has purposed for their lives. This is the action item for church leadership as proposed in Ephesians 4:11-16. There, Paul not only encourages spiritual leaders (apostles, teachers, prophets, evangelists and pastors) to equip the saints, but he does so using the context of “body” language. Every part has a different part to play. Every part has its own mission in concert with THE MISSION.
It’s been taught that “whom you have been sent” to are those you rub elbows with every day. Your family, your neighbors, your co-workers. To this I say, maybe. But that certainly wasn’t the case for Moses, who was called back to Egypt after he’d left it. Or Jonah, who needed whale transport to Ninevah. Or even Jesus, who left his hometown to minister to the towns around him. If we look at Paul’s ministry, he’s never in one place for too long, and he is certainly not satisfied with a life of mission “on his street.” In fact, God seems to lead him off his street quite often.
I understand the intent of the message. That if God is silent, there are people around you to whom you can be a light for God. But what if the answer to the question has nothing to do with the people on your street? What if the people to whom God has sent you never walk your office hallways? What if the people God has placed you on this earth to serve are far away in proximity? What then?
I find it increasingly difficult to talk about this question because, though I know precisely to whom I have been sent, I am constantly distracted. As a married man with a family of four (with three teenagers), I fully understand that the traditional answer to this question for my life would suggest a small groupp based around family life, my “stage of life” as it were. But families are not my mission field. I’m sorry. They are not. And to serve “families” is to not serve the demographic to which I am indeed sent to. Is that not sinful? Is that not disobedience?
Honesty. That’s where we started. And honestly, I am called to serve young Christians 18-35 (or so). I live in suburbia, where the young adult doth not live. My street is filled with people in my stage of life, with families and young children. My work does not allow me to cross paths with these people. So what to do. Follow God’s way, or someone else’s?
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