Right about now I’m pretty weary with the line of thought that “these are challenging days.” Enough. I find myself coming back to the basics, less concerned about Covid-19, getting back to reading things that refresh my heart—God’s Word and books I’ve only recently heard of. Two in particular, Paul the Missionary; Realities, Strategies and Methods, and The Missionary Theologian speak well to these issues:
- “Is everyone a missionary?”
- “Is the term, or idea, ‘missionary’ even found in Scripture?”
Because of confusion about these topics there are many Christ-followers who spend years of their lives (I talked on the phone to another today) pondering if they should participate as frontline workers in completing the Great Commission. I’m particularly encouraged as I talk with young pastors who have been reading their Bibles and listening to the Spirit’s tugging on their hearts. Yet the mystery that seems to shroud this topic can cause even these godly leaders to freeze in place. “Surely there must be something more definitive than this uneasiness in my soul.”
The short answer to the question this article poses—Is everyone a missionary?—is “no.” I can’t say it any better than Burns, so I will quote him:
“So why does it matter whom we call ‘missionary’? It matters because the glory of God and the good of the nations are at stake; it matters because the lifelong, fruit-bearing missionary office will fade into silence behind the adventurous buzz of what sometimes appears to be a short-term Christian vacation. If there is no definition of the historical office and biblical responsibilities of a ‘sent one’, when indescribable adversity and soul-crushing loneliness plunge the supposed missionary into depression, why would he have the resolve to persevere if it is just a voluntary endeavor that he is trying to get out of? If anyone can be a missionary, then nobody truly will be. This is not a game. This is not a hobby. The glory of God is at stake.”
Earlier Burns writes, “Do not let the priesthood of all believers devolve into the missionaryhood of all believers. They are not one and the same; ask any biblically grounded pastor. They all know they have an office to uphold, and such sacred duties they do not share and relinquish easily.”
Regarding the term and role of missionary, Schnabel writes,
“The argument that the word mission does not occur in the New Testament is incorrect. The Latin verb mittere corresponds to the Greek verb apostellein, which occurs 136 times in the New Testament (97 in the Gospels, used both for Jesus having been “sent” by God and for the Twelve being “sent” by Jesus). The noun apostale (“sending, apostleship”) is used in Romans 1:5 to describe Paul’s missionary calling, in 1 Cor. 9:2 for Paul’s “missionary” or “apostolic” work, in Gal. 2:8 for the missionary calling of Paul and Peter, and in Acts 1:25 in the technical sense of “apostolic” office.”
The seriousness of this great mandate entrusted to the Twelve on that mountainside in Galilee demands that casualness cease, that those who respond to the words, “Go and make disciples of all nations….” truly live set-apart lives. Not for a season, but as their lifelong calling.
God is raising up men and women who are taking His Word, His commission, their sanctification, and their preparation seriously. When I interact with such men and women at Radius – both students past and present – my heart is full. Even as we’ve had to delay the start of our new class by a few weeks, the letters they write (as they awaited Radius opening again) inspire me.
One wrote the other day, “I would like to lay some context for you all. I am currently working as a detective for a multijurisdictional drug task force in ******. I haven’t had the ability to work remotely, or not go to work. I have been in and out of houses, cars, businesses etc. I have had numerous contacts with individuals; some cooperative and some not. My wife is a nurse in the emergency department. We both have had multiple interactions with those who were COVID-19 positive. We have had someone in our church test positive, and I have one of my friends who is a deputy test positive. Both are now fine. It is not lost on me that life in our area is a much different atmosphere than the urban setting of ****** Mexico. I am concerned that “safety” is becoming the ultimate goal with the church and this current virus is crippling certain people, certain churches, and certain organizations with fear or even misguided mercy or love of our neighbors. I believe that the enemy is using this to blind, mislead, and confuse believers from the task at hand. The ultimate goal of our lives should be to make much of Christ, worship God with every ounce of our being and to present our bodies as living and holy sacrifices. Our lives are at His disposal.”
This brother’s plea was to inspire our Radius staff! All of us can succumb to the relentless voices that plead for health and safety. The brother who wrote this note is typical of the folks who are coming our way soon! Pray for them as we all wait, ever knowing the enemy would love to discourage them, and us, from pressing forward boldly.
Founder of Radius International
Brad and his wife Beth planted a church among the